Final two superintendent candidates interview

2010-03-02T22:01:00Z Final two superintendent candidates interviewROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
March 02, 2010 10:01 pm  • 

The final two Billings School District 2 superintendent candidates interviewed separately with the school board Tuesday night, leaving trustees now with the task of choosing their next chief.

The board plans to make a final decision and offer one of the candidates the job in the next two weeks. After the final two interviews, Chairman Malcolm Goodrich raised the possibility of visiting the trustees’ top picks at their current school districts.

The board’s superintendent search committee will meet Thursday at noon to take comment from the public. Trustees then will meet again Monday night to discuss their top candidates.

“We’ve got five outstanding candidates — that’s absolutely clear,” Goodrich said.

Scott Rogers, a superintendent from Rupert, Idaho, interviewed first and spoke at length about the importance of balancing data with spending time in the classroom. He said it was vital for superintendents to connect and communicate with staff and community members.

“I believe that’s just the way you do business in public schools,” he said. “You involve the public.”

Following Rogers was Eric Ely, a superintendent from Schenectady, N.Y. He spoke about the importance of mapping student achievement and understanding data.

“Data drives everything we do,” he said. “Data is critical to student achievement.”

The board spent a lot of time asking the two candidates about handling funding shortfalls and passing mill levies.

Rogers talked about how his district was able to avoid cuts last year by striking a deal with the teachers, support staff and administrators to take four furlough days.

“We pulled together and people just amazed me,” he said.

Ely said sometimes making cuts are a reality and that he strived to run a financially conservative district.

“We don’t fund field trips,” he said as an example.

Instead, classrooms and schools are charged with raising their own money to go out on activities, he said.

Both said they’re eager to get to work and apply their talents to Billing’s specific challenges.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or at 406-657-1231.

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