Trustees will choose 3 to 5 superintendent candidate finalists

2010-02-05T23:30:00Z Trustees will choose 3 to 5 superintendent candidate finalistsROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
February 05, 2010 11:30 pm  • 

Pleased with the double-digit response to the district’s help wanted ad, trustees on the Billings School District 2 board will meet Tuesday to go through the 23 applications submitted for the district’s superintendent position.

“We will be able to go through those applications and pick three to five finalists,” said Trustee Joel Guthals, the board’s vice chairman.

Bob Vogel, a director at the Montana School Boards Association who organized the search for SD2, liked the make-up of the candidate pool. Six of the applicants are in state, and four of the 23 are women.

“There’s some outstanding candidates in the mix,” he said. 

Also impressive was the number who applied.

“To Billings’ credit, I think it’s a pretty easy product to sell,” Vogel said.

Once trustees choose their top picks next week, the board will release the candidates’ names and set up an open house and a series of community meetings to introduce them to the public.

Guthals thinks the process is off to a good start. The board voted in December to advertise the job nationally with a salary range of up to $165,000 in an effort to attract as many qualified candidates as possible.

“We had to be competitive,” Guthals said. 

Although he has yet to see the applications, just judging by the number of responses, Guthals thinks the board made the right move.

All through January, while candidates were applying for the job, the Montana School Boards Association conducted an online survey to solicit feedback from the public. Vogel got plenty of responses, nearly 30 pages worth, he said.

Nearly half of the respondents were parents. Only 8 percent identified themselves as teachers.

Much of the community feedback he received centered on the district’s money problems and the need for strong leadership to lead the district forward.

“I would like to see someone who is guided by real data and who embraces and utilizes professional planning in guiding the direction of the school district,” wrote one parent. “I would like this person to be able to be honest about the hard choices that SD2 needs to make.”

Wrote another, “It’s important that this new leader realize the impact of schools on the strength and growth of a community and can also recognize the freewill sentimentality of Montanans.”

The board hopes to have a contract with the new superintendent in place by the first of March. Jack Copps, who announced his retirement in November, steps down at the end of June.

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

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