DAYTON — Dayton School District will be minus a principal this coming school year.

Dayton Elementary School principal Denise Smith tendered her resignation earlier this month, Superintendent Doug Johnson said.

Smith was hired for her first school administration job in 2017 from Deer Park near Spokane and is now headed to Issaquah for an assistant principal position. 

“She really enjoyed working here and made good relationships,” Johnson said. The move means a higher salary and larger peer team for Smith, he added

“This is a good fit for her.”

Johnson himself will be trying on new duties. He and the school board have decided not to fill the position and to add those principal duties to Johnson’s plate. 

Superintendent-as-principal is a model also seen in the Athena-Weston, Touchet and Waitsburg school districts.

According the Washington’s education funding formula, Dayton should only have 1.5 principals in total, and less than a full-time superintendent. With Smith’s departure it’s time to see how such cuts will look and give the school board time to consider how to fill his own job when he retires in 2020, Johnson said.

For now he has started  preparing for the coming school year by meeting with elementary school teachers.

“I’ve asked them a bunch of questions,” Johnson said. “There’s stuff I know goes on, but I’ve let the principal do that.”

Sheila Hagar can be reached at or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.