Written by Devon Boen
The Wolf Point School board met March 28 with the Montana School Board Association to review superintendent applications and choose final applicants to interview next week.
High school principal Joe Paine and Southside principal Eileen Karge have been co-superintendents since the fall of 2011, but the board voted to not renew their contracts for the 2013-14 school year. Board chairman Martin DeWitt said the school district needed one full-time superintendent to take on the challenges the district faces.
The board elected to use superintendent search services provided by the Montana School Board Association.
On March 28, MTSBA representative Bob Vogel met with the board members and provided them with community survey results regarding the superintendent search and to review the 12 applications.
The survey asked local teachers, parents, administrators, students, etc., what they wanted from the new superintendent and what they wanted the trustees to keep in mind when selecting.
Respondents largely said they wanted a person experienced in budget planning and who had strong leadership skills.
Responses regarding what community members wanted trustees to keep in mind when making a selection varied. Many said they wanted new blood brought in from outside the district while several others suggested Paine take over as the full-time superintendent.
The wide range of responses gave the board an opportunity to understand the community sentiment.
After reviewing the survey, Vogel gave the board 12 applications. Board members were told to choose their top four or five candidates to help narrow the selection.
The 12 applicants were Jan Cahill of Denton, Stephen Henderson of Brockton, Janet Jorgensen of Belfry, Richard McClements of Wyoming, Joe Paine of Wolf Point, Mike Radakovich of Circle, Charles Smith of Georgia, Terry Smith of Idaho, Barbara Thronson of Idaho, Kathleen Walsh of New York, Daniel Wendt of Troy and Dwain Haggard of Reed Point.
The candidates’ years of experience as superintendent ranged from zero to 28 years and their previous salaries ranged from $36,000 to $158,000.
Another element for the board to consider was whether or not the candidate had the necessary administrator certifications required in Montana. All but three applicants had the certification.
The board proceeded to review the applications for several hours. At the end of the review process, Vogel helped the board narrow its choices.
The board’s final decision was to interview Terry Smith, Charles Smith, Joe Paine and Jan Cahill.
DeWitt commented on the applicants and the screening process in a recent press release.
“We were impressed with the quality of the applicants and are very excited about the chance to look at the four finalists more closely during the interviews,” DeWitt said. “The board took time to review all of the applications and select a group of finalists after reviewing the results of an online survey asking the staff and community for what they wanted to see in a superintendent.”
Terry Smith is currently the director of Impact Aid for Lapwai School District in Lapwai, Idaho. Charles Smith is currently an orthopedically-impaired specialist, assistant principal and special education teacher in the Savannah/Chatham Public School in Savannah, Ga. Jan Cahill is currently the interim superintendent in Denton and Joe Paine is the current co-superintendent and high school principal for Wolf Point.
Terry Smith has been in his current position for three years and has six years’ experience as a high school principal and 11 years as a teacher. He received his bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University, his teacher certification from Washington State University and his administrative certification is from Central Washington University.
Charles Smith doesn’t have experience as a superintendent, but he has 12 years’ experience in his current position, six years as a principal and 11 years as a teacher. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University, his master’s of education from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, his educational specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University and his Education Doctorate from Georgia Southern University.
Cahill has been in his current position for 1½ years and has 18 years’ experience as a superintendent, two as a principal and six as a teacher. Cahill earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s of education degree from Montana State University - Billings.
Paine has served as a co-superintendent for two years, a principal for seven years and a teacher for 12 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Montana State University - Northern in Havre and his superintendent endorsement from Rocky Mountain College in Billings.
The three out-of-town candidates will be travelling to Wolf Point next week. Interviews will be held April 10-11. Candidates will meet with students, staff and community members during the day and then two interviews will be completed each night. The interviews are open to the public.