Bette Hyde announces retirement

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Bette Hyde’s tenure at the helm of the Bremerton School District will officially end July 1. Her legacy, however, will be felt for many generations to come.

“It’s always hard to let someone of her caliber go,” board member and former superintendent DeWayne Boyd said, alluding to Hyde’s leadership since stepping in as superintendent in 2001.

While the board of directors will vote at a May 15 board meeting to make the announcement official, the district is prepared to find a new leader.

“We respect her request,” board President Cynthia Galloway said Tuesday. “Dr. Hyde has been a delightful person to have leading our district.”

Hyde took the helm seven years ago, inheriting a district she coined Wednesday as having “been in a slump.”

But she put a team in place and turned the district in the right direction, making her departure bittersweet for district personnel.

“Under her leadership, the Bremerton School District has moved forward,” Galloway said. “She’s a fearless leader, not afraid of a challenge and goal-driven.”

Hyde spearheaded a number of projects during her tenure including the construction of Mountain View Middle School’s new wing to replace the aging junior high, district-wide free, all-day kindergarten and the groundbreaking of the Washington Youth Academy.

“She is the best superintendent I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them,” Boyd said.

Along with fellow board member Pat Jones, Boyd will soon begin outlining a set of criteria for Hyde’s replacement to meet the needs of district staff, students and parents.

A tough decision to make, Hyde said now simply felt like the right time to step down.

“There’s never a perfect time to (retire), but now is the right time,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.”

Though no longer the district’s superintendent as of July 1, Hyde’s presence in and around Bremerton schools and the community will remain strong.

“I know that I love living here, I love this community, I love my board,” she explained. “I would do anything in my power to help the Bremerton School District.”

Now the state’s only Kindergarten Lighthouse District for early learning, which is a hallmark in early childhood education, the district is in position to succeed even without Hyde’s leadership.

“We have really good, smart, hard-working people working here,” Hyde said, alluding to the board and entire district staff.

“I’m really proud of this district and what we’ve done here. I think the district is on an incredible roll.”

The American School Board Journal honored the district in 2007 with a Magna Award, recognizing the district for advancing student learning while encouraging community involvement.

“What I really love about Bremerton is, people think ‘community,’” Hyde said. “We’re small enough and, I think, personable enough that people reach out for their community. It’s a really good place to be.”

While the winds of change will blow with her departure, Hyde is confident the district will continue to move forward.

“If any leader has done it right, it’s not me, it’s the system that’s put in place,” she said. “You empower other people.”

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