Meet an Administrator: Rick Ring
Position: Administrator for Business Services
Years in Education: 33
Years at Clover Park: 3.5
Rick Ring started as a school bus mechanic in Colorado and worked his way up to administration. He spent time as an executive director of support services and assistant superintendent before coming to Clover Park School District in his current position in 2014.
You have held a variety of positions throughout your career. What kind of perspective does that bring?
Each position I held was a little like a stepping stone to learn more about a specific area in school administration. I started as a school bus mechanic, became a fleet manager and was asked to do more in transportation, then I took over parts of maintenance, which gave me an exposure to capital projects and maintenance. At one time, I had human resources, risk management, and safety and security all under my umbrella.
What attracted you to a career in education?
It started out just having a job where you get a decent paycheck and some benefits, and it evolved as opportunities presented themselves. Being able to serve the community and provide services where you can see them make a difference is why I stayed in education. Even though I don’t ever get in front of the kids and teach, all of the services we provide support them in their academic work.
You spent most of your career in Colorado. How did you end up in CPSD?
We were looking for a change and specifically looked toward the Pacific Northwest. I have a daughter and her family who live in Oregon. We had been in Colorado for a while and we always liked the area here. We thought it would be a good area for us to try out. The rainy days get a little tough but the summers are really nice.
What was the focus of your higher education degrees?
I have a bachelor’s in business administration with a minor in human resources, which basically formulated everything I was doing. In transportation and facilities, you’re dealing with a lot of personnel matters. Getting that understanding on the HR side plus the business aspects was the foundation of it. My master’s degree is in non-profit management and really aligns with what we do because it was focused on board governance and working with community stakeholders. It was a very good alignment with the work we do with the public. Both degrees were from Regis University.
How would you describe the functions of your position?
I go to meetings all the time. I’d describe my job as facilitating a lot of different areas and trying to align those with the district’s mission and making sure we are providing services that support the schools. We provide a customer service function as well as being active on the regulatory side of things to make sure the district is in compliance with different laws and regulations from facilities to financial administration to student nutrition. I oversee financial services, maintenance and operations, transportation, nutrition, risk management and capital projects.
What has surprised you most about working in education?
I think the commitment of the people who work in education. They are not doing it because they make a lot of money. Bus drivers, paraeducators, teachers and everyone else show so much commitment. They just put a ton of effort and energy into it, and they’re very dedicated to the kids.
What motivates you to do the work you do?
I like the variety of the work I do and the challenge. That challenge is really the motivating factor and knowing that we’re making a difference, being good stewards to the taxpayers. You often hear that governments aren’t very effective or efficient, and I’m sure that’s true in some places. But I think most government employees work very hard to be good stewards of the resources they’re given. In many cases, they’re even pulling money out of their own pockets to help kids.
How can you help create promising futures in your position?
By making sure we support the board’s vision and hold people accountable to do that. We need to make sure we are always checking ourselves and moving on that continuous improvement model of always asking “is what we’re doing actually working or could we be doing it better?”
What is the best part of your job?
The people. You are always influencing people, always supporting people. There are not a lot of jobs where you can always look at something and say “we are making a difference in peoples’ lives.” That includes staff and students. I don’t personally get involved with the students anymore, but a lot of the people I work with have daily influence.
How is CPSD different than the two districts you worked at in Colorado?
Clover Park has a much higher poverty rate than I had experienced before and, of course, the military connection is unique. I think the commitment of the teachers is the same. If you’re in this business, I think you’re pretty committed to what you’re doing. I think the Clover Park community is one of the most giving communities when it comes to wanting to support students with needs. They step up quite a bit with resources and time.
What are your hobbies?
My wife and I like to travel. I used to ride motorcycles a lot but I sold my motorcycles when we came up here. Last year, we traveled to Europe and did one of the Viking river cruises, so we got to see parts of Europe that way. We also usually have a family vacation that we go on every year with my two daughters, my six grandkids and their spouses.