The Billings School Distrct 2 Board will bring six finalists to town next month to interview for superintendent.
Trustees pared down the list of two dozen candidates at its meeting Monday night.
Of the board’s picks, two are finalists in superintendent searches elsewhere in the country, so the board moved to include two alternates to its list should any of the six drop out.
The final six are R. Keith Beeman, associate superintendent of the Chino Valley Unified School District in Chino, Calif.; Eric Ely, a superintendent from Schenectady, NY; Keith Meyer, assistant superintendent in Helena; Cole Pugh, a superintendent from Fort Worth, Texas; Barbara Hickman, interim superintendent in Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Scott Rogers, superintendent in Rupert, Idaho.
The two alternates are Josh Middleton, superintendent of the Laurel School District, and Christopher Hines, an associate superintendent from Conroe, Texas.
The board used the Montana School Boards Association to advertise and collect applications for the position. In all, 23 people applied. Bob Vogel, the MTSBA official who’s worked with the trustees, said all the applicants were strong candidates.
“It’s made your job to narrow that list extremely difficult,” he said.
Board Chairman Malcolm Goodrich agreed, calling the candidates “all outstanding.”
Much of the discussion Monday revolved around a Montana law that requires school district superintendents to have three years of classroom teaching experience and to work one year as a certified principal.
A candidate from Michigan and another from Colorado had extensive superintendent experience. But both come from business backgrounds, so they didn’t have the requisite classroom or principal experience.
Trustee Peter Gesuale asked Vogel if it was wise to rule them out as candidates when it appeared both were definitely qualified to lead the district.
“I would tend to agree with you,” Vogel said. “Except there’s not a lot of wiggle room” in the state law.
The district will bring the six finalists to Billings for a Sunday evening open house on Feb. 28.
For the next two days, the finalists will meet with teachers, community members, business leaders, tour district schools and sit down for interviews with trustees.
The district began its superintendent search after Superintendent Jack Copps announced in November that he would resign his post at the end of the school year. He’s been superintendent for four years.
Contact Rob Rogers at email@example.com or 657-1231.