Veteran Fife educator is named new superintendent of Fife School District

The Fife School Board Monday night named veteran Fife educator Kevin Alfano as the Fife School District’s new superintendent.

Alfano has worked for the district as a teacher at Fife High School, as an assistant principal and principal, an assistant superintendent and, most recently, as interim superintendent. He was named to that post following the death of Superintendent John McCrossin in August.

He’ll earn a base salary of $135,000 in his new job, which starts Jan. 1.

Alfano said tending to the 3,500-student school district’s increasingly diverse student population and helping teachers navigate the many changes sweeping through education are among his top goals.

He said that while education reforms are affecting every school district, he believes Fife has had a clear vision about its schools for several years. He said he wants to find a way to merge his district’s core beliefs with new directives from from state and federal governments.

“I have a vision of bringing some coherency and consistency to the things teachers focus on,” he said.

The unanimous board vote for Alfano was greeted by applause from an audience of school district employees and parents. They also heard a description of the selection process that narrowed a field of 18 potential candidates down to three, from which the board made its selection. Although the position was not advertised out of state, several educators from other states applied, said Jeff Short, a retired Fife schools administrator who assisted the school board in the search.

He said candidates were reviewed first by an eight-member screening committee that included representatives from the district office and unions in the district. Then a committee that included those eight plus four community members helped narrow the possibilities to Alfano and two other finalists, who were all interviewed by school board members.

Drew Ritzen is a parent and a former Fife teacher. He characterized Alfano as “approachable.” He said he’s familiar with the district and the direction it has been headed.

“I think the district as a whole is in good shape,” he added. He agrees with Alfano’s goal of paying more attention to the district’s changing demographics, and suggests that one way to address that is by hiring more minority teachers.

Parent Abby Meyer said that Alfano has been part of the Fife community for a long time.

“So this feels like a natural progression in his career,” she said. Meyer said she is glad that Alfano was able to work with McCrossin, another long-time Fife educator who held the superintendent’s job just a little over a year before succumbing to cancer. She said she’s looking forward to seeing McCrossin’s vision for the district continue under Alfano.

Alfano describes Fife as “a small district surrounded by big hitters.” Those nearby school districts include Puyallup, Federal Way, Auburn and Sumner.

“We are smaller,” Alfano said. “We don’t have as many levels from the student to my position.”

That’s a strength, he believes, that will serve him well in the coming months. He hopes to begin building a plan for communication with schools and with parents. He said he wants the district to conduct a self-audit to determine whether it’s organized as efficiently as possible, and to look at strengths and at things that can be done better.