Health forces superintendent to take leave

Ken Crawford will be out for up to 11 weeks for surgery, recuperation.

On doctor’s orders, Bainbridge school Superintendent Ken Crawford will take an 11-week leave of absence to deal with persistent health problems.

The schools’ chief is scheduled for surgery after the holidays to repair a large-incision hernia that occurred as a result of a surgical procedure last summer.

“He has been so dedicated that he has not thought of own health first,” said school board president Susan Sivitz. “We admire his dedication and his commitment, but we want him to obey doctors’ orders and get 100 percent healthy.”

Crawford has been on a part-time schedule, working from home, while recovering from a previous surgery last summer, which resulted in a life-threatening bout with peritonitis.

Now, school officials say, his doctors want him to take a complete rest to gain weight and lower his blood pressure in preparation for surgery.

The absence comes as the school board is making critical decisions about the scope and amount of a bond and technology levy that will be put before the voters on May 17.

During his 33-year career as an educator, Crawford has never taken so much time off from “children, teachers and classrooms,” he said in a memo to district staff.

“Not being involved will be the most difficult part of my recovery,” he wrote.

During the school board meeting Thursday night, Crawford and his wife Susan thanked the board and staff for the support they had received.

“I feel good. I feel guilty leaving,” Crawford said.

With regard to planning the upcoming bond and levy, Crawford told the board, “Whatever your decision, I’ll hit the ground running when I return.”

Crawford’s physicians say the surgery is routine and will involve a six-week recovery period, district officials said.

During his absence, Associate Superintendent Faith Chapel will assume his duties with the help of consultants paid out of the district’s general fund for professional services.

Retired University Place superintendent Gregory Paus will assist the board with bond/levy planning and support and the district’s financial operations. Paus is expected to work two days per week at a rate of $800 per day.

Jody Scott will assist with Chapel’s ongoing curriculum and instruction responsibilities.

Recently retired as executive director of elementary teaching and learning for the Central Kitsap School District, she will work two to three days per week at a rate of $525 per day.

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