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School District 2 Trustees hope to have their top choice for new superintendent by April.

Trustees met with representatives from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the search firm hired to help firm current Superintendent Terry Bouck's replacement. Bouck is retiring at the end of the school year.

Trustees will interview a round of semi-finalist candidates — tentatively set for March — then move on to three different days of finalist interviews in April before a final meeting on April 14 to select a top pick. The finalist interviews would include informal interactions like a tour of Billings. 

"We want you to have as many opportunities to see you candidates (as possible)," said HYA regional president Carolyn McKennan, who previously worked as a teacher and administrator in Billings from 1967-1986. "Sometimes the person you like most in a formal interview is not the person you'll pick."

McKeean and Lori Garcy, a consultant working for HYA, will interview and survey trustees, educators, administrators, students and community members to develop a "leadership profile" summarizing qualities SD2 needs. 

The recommended application deadline for the position is March 5. 

Trustees also debated how open to make the process. Everyone at Thursday's meeting agreed that finalist interviews would be public, but no decisions were made about earlier candidates. 

In 2012, during the process that ended with Bouck's hiring, trustees released a list of 16 applicants before interviews were conducted. Trustees narrowed that list to five finalists, who each got interviews, which were public. 

McKeean and Garcy noted that it's too early for trustees to determine a new superintendent compensation package, but that they should start doing some research. They discussed looking at salaries in similar-sized school districts in different states. 

"You're going to have to expect to pay more than what we're paying Terry," said SD2 chief financial officer Mike Arnold.

Trustees also recommended things they thought would serve as strengths for recruiting candidates, like stable district finances and a new three-year contract with the teacher's union. 

"We're in a good spot right now," said trustee Russ Hall. 

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Billings Gazette.