EAST WENATCHEE — The Eastmont School Board’s search for a new superintendent is starting with a familiar consultant, Northwest Leadership Associates — the same company that helped the board select Garn Christensen 14 years ago.

The board selected the firm Monday and hopes to have a new superintendent in a year when Christensen retires. It will pay the firm $17,800.

Five companies submitted proposals: A Washington state firm serving Washington, a Washington state firm that serves the Northwest and three national firms.

Board member Meaghan Vibbert said she preferred Northwest Leadership Associates because it found Christensen.

“I appreciated the way they talked about their process of finding candidates,” Vibbert said. “I appreciated the moderate cost. They weren’t the highest or the lowest. I felt like they had a good feel for Eastmont and the area.”

Board member Cindy Wright noted that Northwest Leadership Associates was a Washington company familiar with Eastmont.

“They are familiar with where we come from and the way we do business. They’ll be able to know exactly what we are looking for,” Wright said.

Board member Whitney Smith said the proposal by Northwest Leadership Associates was easy to understand, which she appreciated.

“It is a Northwest brand. They understand our region and culture. I think that is all important. It worked so great the last time we used them. They are my top pick,” said board member Dave Piepel.

Board President Annette Eggers was on the school board when Christensen was selected and hired. As a new board member at the time, Eggers said she felt guided in the process.

“I remember some of those things they helped us do which I didn’t see in some of the others,” Eggers said. She felt the timeline Northwest Leadership Associates presented fit well with the expectations of the board.

Piepel asked Christensen about his experience working with Northwest Leadership Associates. Christensen noted the founder of the company, Dennis Ray, was once an assistant superintendent for Eastmont a long time ago.

“He knows Eastmont. When I talked to him, he said it was one of the best places he ever lived. He has a fondness for this place. He’s in his 80s now. He knows the culture and believes strongly in the right fit,” Christensen said.

Christensen said Ray’s firm also recruited him for his previous job at Sequim. Ray brought him to Eastmont, he said, because Ray knew it was a good fit. Christensen said staying 14 years is a “feather in their cap.”

“I think that is what you are looking for, not just the right education, but what is the right culture and background of the person,” Christensen said. “I think highly of them. The firms are all good, but Dennis understands Washington well and rural Washington. He looks for the right person and right setting.”

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