The Laurel School District has selected its next superintendent.
Tim Bronk, school superintendent in Darby, accepted the district’s offer, said Ken Kallem, chairman of the Laurel school board. The board met Monday night to ratify his contract.
“We had a good list” of candidates, Kallem said.
Bronk was one of five candidates whom the board interviewed for the job.
Bronk is superintendent at Darby Schools, where he was hired in 2008 after completing four years as superintendent of Highwood Schools in Highwood.
The Ravalli Republic reported in January that, with Darby Schools facing budget shortfalls, the district was looking at trimming administrative salaries.
At the time, the board and Bronk were unable to come to an agreement over his salary and job description, so Bronk gave his resignation effective at the end of the school year in June.
Laurel is facing its own budget woes. The district is operating with a $1.5 million hole in its budget after CHS Inc., which owns the oil refinery in town, began protesting its taxes with the state last year.
Roughly 50 percent of the town’s tax base comes from CHS. As the company continues to protest its property tax, the Laurel School District will struggle to balance its budget. County tax officials think it will be another four years before the courts resolve the protest.
The district will need someone who understands school finance and can tackle the shortfalls facing the district. Both Kallem and Middleton have been quick to point out they don’t fault CHS’ tax protest.
Laurel’s current superintendent, Josh Middleton, decided to leave the district last year. He’s been working on his doctorate in education from Montana State University and will be awarded the degree in May.
With that in place, he thought the time was right to move on to a new challenge.
He has applied for superintendent jobs at a half-dozen school districts across the country — from Whitefish on the western side of the state to Ann Arbor, Mich., to Bellingham, Wash.