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REEDSPORT — Jonathan Zwemke will serve as the next Reedsport School District superintendent.

Board chairwoman Jen Clark made the announcement in an email to all school district employees and cc'ed all school board members May 1. The board approved a contract with Zwemke April 30 in a public meeting. 

"After a thorough application screening process, extensive reference checks, site visits, a day in the district and multiple rounds of interviews, Mr. Zwemke was our top choice candidate and we are thrilled to announce his employment," Clark wrote. 

According to Reedsport School District Human Resources Director and Board Secretary Donna Shaw, Zwemke will make $163,160 between salary and benefits. This compares to the current year for part-time Superintendent Dan Forbess, who makes $94,182 in wages and benefits.

"I'm just looking forward to working for the school district and with the community," said the new, incoming superintendent in a May 9 phone interview. 

Zwemke said "there's several elements" that led him to apply for the Reedsport superintendent position. 

"I'm a small schools person," he said, adding that even though he grew up in Salem, he's worked in smaller 2A schools, including Gervais, Pilot Rock and Central Linn. 

Zwemke added that he "sees good things on the horizon" academically for the Reedsport district. 

"Our entire board would like to express our gratitude for your patience, support and feedback during the process," Clark continued in the email to the recipients. "A large screening committee was selected to narrow down the applications, sit in on interviews and provide feedback to the board. A special thank you to those folks! Also, we appreciate the willingness of our community and staff to invest in a full-time superintendent."

"Jon comes to our district with great energy, passion and a love for kids," Clark wrote. "Please help welcome him to our schools and community." 

The board chairwoman couldn't be reached for a phone interview by deadline.

However, fellow board member Shelley Swift had this to say about Zwemke's selection.

"We're excited," Swift said in the May 8 phone interview. "Excited to have him come on board. Excited to have a full-time superintendent." 

She added that "I think it's really going to be good for our district." 

Originally, 15 people applied for the job. That candidate pool was then whittled down to three: Zwemke; Bret Uptmor and Susan Penrod. 

The press release sent out several months ago didn't list which states the candidates came from or all of their names. 

Throughout the selection, interviewing and hiring process, school board and interview committee members worked closely with Steve Kelley of the Oregon School Boards Association, also known as OSBA. Kelley works as the OSBA's director of board development. 

The OSBA provides services to school districts and boards, including assistance with hiring new superintendents. 

Fifteen people applied, including nine from Oregon, two from California and one each from Wisconsin, Alaska, Tennessee and New Mexico. 

In a phone interview, Kelley declined to mention the applicants' names.

"The only names that will be public are the ones that were finalists," Kelley said. 

Zwemke works as the high school principal in the Central Linn School District, where he's been employed since 2010. 

His district consists of two schools — Central Linn Junior/Senior High School and Central Linn Elementary. The district encompasses Brownsville, Shedd, Halsey and Peoria, Ore.

He worked in the Gervais, Ontario and Pilot Rock school districts as a district administrator, middle school administrator and secondary teacher 12 years. 

The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or


Umpqua Post Editor