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Dr. Steve Cook chosen as new Bend-La Pine Schools superintendent

Dr. Steve Cook Bend-La Pine Schools superintendent
Bend-La Pine Schools
Dr. Steven Cook, chosen as the new Bend-La Pine Schools superintendent

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Bend-La Pine School Board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to pick Dr. Steve Cook as the district’s next superintendent. Cook, currently superintendent at Idaho's Coeur d’Alene School District, will begin on July 1, succeeding Interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist.

“Among an exceptional pool of candidates from across our nation, Dr. Cook rose to the top," said Carrie Douglass, board chair. "During this search process, which began more than a year ago, our community came together to identify four key competencies that they wanted to see in a next superintendent.

"Those values are what guided our rigorous selection process and we are thrilled to say Dr. Cook meets and exceeds all of the attributes we were looking for. He is the visionary leader, advocate for equity, community partner and capacity builder our community wants and needs,” Douglass added.

Vice Chair Melissa Barnes Dholakia said, “Steve is a bold and innovative leader – he has stood up against inequities based on income in the communities he has served. And, he is deeply rooted in an educational vision that promotes student agency, places a focus on student-driven learning, and tends to the whole child – academically as well as socially and emotionally.”

Prior to serving in Idaho, Cook served as acting superintendent at Douglas County School District in Colorado, which serves 68,000 students. From 2014-2018, he served as assistant superintendent of secondary schools and deputy superintendent at the Douglas County School District.

Cook has more than 30 years of public education experience, including serving as teacher, principal and superintendent. He holds a Doctorate of Education Leadership and Policy Studies. 

“I am excited to come to Bend-La Pine Schools and continue to build upon the district’s strong education tradition and help bring to fruition the district’s efforts on equity, diversity and inclusion, while ensuring an unrivaled opportunity for innovation and an excellent education for every student.” Cook said.

“I look forward to developing strong relationships with our staff members, our students and our community in ways that empower our students to be their best selves in the classroom and beyond,” he added.

He is married to Stephanie Cook, a former critical care and school nurse, and has three grown children and one grandchild.

During the coming months, Cook will collaborate with board members, community partners, school leaders, educators and families to learn more about Bend-La Pine Schools as he transitions to becoming Superintendent on July 1. 

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  1. You have got to be kidding me. What a huge disappointment for our entire district to go with the least qualified and prepared candidate. More of the same for BLPS. Tragic

    1. How do you know the “entire district” is disappointed? I read both of their personal statements at least and he clearly had much deeper and broader experience. he was able to give a much broader rationale supporting his selection. Her only selling point she was interested in, as this is where she applied most of her logic, was focusing on darker students. She is the one that seemed to be the clearly inferior and least qualified candidate. I incorrectly assumed they were going to select her based on her genetics because she was so clearly less qualified and shouldn’t have made it to the final selection.

    1. I don’t think you really know the definition of the word diversity. It really means “anticompetitive actions, thoughts and policies in order to obtain mediocrity, mind rot and racism by making sure people are divided by skin tone”. I mean, life isn’t fun if we don’t have an angry, highly armed populace vis a vis the Hatfields and McCoys.

      For clarity, yes, I am being facetious to point out the cognitive dissonance we are currently engaged in – by screaming white privilege, anti-racism, critical race theory, we are making sure racism is going to make a roaring come back to all of our detriment.

  2. I had a feeling if this guy was chosen there would be “white privilege” styled comments thrown out. Disappointed but not surprised in the least by the sounds coming out of the west side people, a bunch of NIMBY critters.

  3. This was a unanimous decision by the board? The differences must have been extremely clear.

    Good luck to him. This is a tough time to jump into the fray.

  4. There needs to be a method put in place to fill these positions on merit, nothing more. No race, religion nor gender revealed until they are chosen? All the asinine comments on these articles prove there needs to be something in place.

      1. A little bit snarky tonight Barney? Hard to conceive of something other than the normal way things are done? How about something along the line taking all the resumes submitted, removing all the personal data -name, gender, marital status, race, age – out of the equation first off. Assign a code to the resume to identify who goes with which one on a master list, assign a “score” for: Education levels, teaching jobs held, administrative positions held, years in service, extracurricular activities related to teaching, and other pertinent data needed to separate the contestants down to the winner. Shoot holes all through this idea with a better idea or system, but it is something. What do you have? Collectively, there have to be enough people tired of the system in place now to come up with a different but better method that is fair and equal. IF a person is qualified to do the job, should they get the job because of their skin color/gender or not get the job because of their skin color/gender? Should a nonqualified person get the job to fill a minority slot or as a “feel good” action? There are a lot of people whining, crying, and slinging assumptions and innuendos here but none of them are proposing any valid changes.

  5. Unanimous decision means nothing. After debating, voting, disagreeing, eventually Dr. Cook gets a majority of the votes. Then the Board re-votes unanimously so it looks like they all stand together and Dr. Cook feels supported. The bigger issue is that they did not get a slate of highly qualified candidates. That would have been administrators who had long-term success at their current position, not candidates who, within a year of arriving, were already looking to move on. I hope the Board at least had enough foresight to not grant him a big golden parachute unless he sticks around for at least five years.

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