Range of experience, skill sets vary among SD2's superintendent applicants

2012-05-01T19:00:00Z 2012-05-11T15:15:14Z Range of experience, skill sets vary among SD2's superintendent applicantsBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Starting Monday, School District 2 trustees will begin interviewing their five superintendent applicants.

The five men come from all over the western United States — including one applicant from Missoula — and have varying degrees of experience and years in education.

“We’ve got some good options,” said board Chairwoman Teresa Stroebe.

Trustees will be looking to see how well each candidate will fit in with SD2 — a diverse district of nearly 16,000 students.

Here are the candidates:

Joseph Farnsworth is currently human resources director for the Queen Creek Unified School District outside Mesa, Ariz., and has been a school administrator for nine years.

Queen Creek has a student body of 5,200. Before his stint there, he was superintendent for the smaller Pima Unified School District, with student body of 750, for three years.

“My background in curriculum and instruction combined with my experience of managing a multi-million-dollar organization has helped me learn the nuances of being an instructional leader,” he wrote in his application.

All the candidates were vetted by McPherson & Jacobson, the search firm hired by SD2 to find superintendent applicants.

In its research, McPherson & Jacobson described Farnsworth as a “dynamic leader” with experience from a diversity of administrative jobs in Fort Worth, Texas, and Arizona.

David Gray is currently assistant superintendent of the 13,000-student Battle Ground Public Schools in Battle Ground, Wash. Gray spent the majority of his 18-year career in school administration in Colorado. He’s been in Battle Ground since 2008.

Before moving to Washington, Gray was superintendent of the Huerfano School District in Walsenburg, Colo., which had a student body of 750. He also spent five years working for the Colorado Dept. of Education.

“I am interested in supporting school improvement that focuses on both achieving state standards and improving state assessment results,” he wrote in his application.

McPherson & Jacobson researchers found Gray to be a passionate educator who places student needs and well-being above all else. He prizes openness and transparency and was described by many as a people person.

The applicant to travel the longest distance to visit Billings will be Jim Nygaard, from Cordova, Alaska.

Nygaard, who began his career in Colstrip, was one of three finalists to be picked for the Lockwood School District superintendent job last month. The Lockwood board hired Elder Grove Superintendent/Principal Tobin Novasio instead.

He’s been in Alaska since 2004, where he’s been superintendent of two 400-student school districts. Last year, he was named Alaska Superintendent of the Year.

McPherson & Jacobson researchers described Nygaard as a creative problem solver, pointing to an instance where he found a way to dispose of the district’s used oil by putting it to use in the buildings.

“I can bring great balance to Billings with 10 years of classroom experience, nine years as a principal and 14 years as a superintendent,” Nygaard wrote in his application.

Terry Bouck has been superintendent of the 8,700-student Peninsula School District in Gig Harbor, Wash., for six years. Before that he was the assistant superintendent in the 29,000-student Tacoma School District, where he began his administrative career as a principal in 1991.

“I offer a sense of humor, compassion, organization, loyalty, integrity, trust and respect for staff, students, parents, board members and the community,” he wrote in his application.

Bouck was successful in shepherding a 30-year facilities plan for each building in the district and trimmed $15 million from his district’s budget during the last economic downturn.

McPherson & Jacobson researchers described Bouk as an “extremely good communicator” and someone who has a clear vision about what direction his district should move.

Douglas Reisig, one of four Montana candidates from the original 18 applicants, is a West High graduate and began his career as a history teacher in SD2 in 1976.

He’s been a superintendent in St. Ignatius, Troy and Anaconda. He’s been running the 1,325-student Hellgate Elementary School District in Missoula since 2000.

“I grew up believing that Billings and the Billings Public Schools were special, wonderful places,” Reisig wrote in his application. “I want the Billings Public School students and the Billings community to once again feel that way.”

McPherson & Jacobson researchers described Reisig as open to receiving input from any source in or out of the school system. They said he had a clear understanding of the relationship between quality instruction, good curriculum and high student achievement.

The five applicants will begin visiting Billings on Monday. The board will interview one candidate a day during the course of the week. They plan to hire the new superintendent by May 17.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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