Crawford coming home, named BSD superintendent

After just 17 minutes of executive session to close a months-long search, the Bremerton School District announced March 3 that James Crawford will become superintendent July 1.

Crawford was one of three finalists, along with deputy superintendent Erin Murphy of the Bainbridge Island School District and superintendent Eric Nerison of the Kalama School District. Each candidate spent a day in the district, participating in community forums and another interview with the school board.

Board president Alyson Rotter said Crawford’s educational excellence and ties as a former student in the district made him the unanimous selection.

“Doctor Crawford’s instructional leadership experience, research and data background, connections to innovative CTE programs, coupled with his genuine dedication and sincere approach to creating equitable education experiences for all students were key considerations for the board,” Rotter says in a news statement. “In addition, Doctor Crawford’s own educational and life experiences growing up in Bremerton provide meaningful context and personal connections to our motto, ‘We are Bremerton.’”

It was an affectionate welcome home for Crawford, whose relationship with the district started as a third-grader.

In his community forum March 2, Crawford provided context to the challenges he went through before and during his time as a student in Bremerton. He described his childhood as extremely challenging, sharing that he and his siblings were not well taken care of to the point where he spent 4 1/2 years away from his mom in foster care.

Through such a scary period of his life, he said it was the school district and the teachers who worked with him to create a safe and accepting home that made him into who he is today. “I would not be here today if it was not for this community,” he said, fighting back tears.

Crawford has worked as the interim senior director of high school academics for Portland Public Schools since November. He has also worked as a teacher in the Puyallup and Pullman school districts and as an assistant superintendent for Federal Way Public Schools.

His hiring will be official pending a successful contract negotiation and background check. Donna Dearin-Colosky will conclude her year of service as Bremerton’s interim superintendent this summer.

Crawford said in a news statement that he was thankful to be coming back to Bremerton to serve the community that once served him. “I am humbled and honored,” he said.