Daniel Snowberger, an assistant school superintendent in Colorado, was in Helena on Thursday interviewing for the superintendent position in Helena. He is the final of four candidates to be in Helena this week talking with students, meeting with staff and being interviewed by trustees.
The day-long process looked the same for each finalist with Butte Superintendent Linda Reksten’s interview on Monday; Keith Meyer, current interim superintendent of Helena schools on Tuesday; and Kent Kultgen, superintendent in Stevensville, on Wednesday.
The board is scheduled to meet this evening to begin hashing out the details about each of the finalists and take comments from the public, but board members say that doesn’t mean a hiring decision will be made immediately.
There were two community meetings providing Helena residents with the opportunity to meet the candidates. In the first meeting, Snowberger told the group that superintendents should be able to step into the classroom to teach at any given time. He began his 26 years in education while in college, working in an elementary school supporting students who struggled with math and reading. He earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership.
He’s worked as a technology teacher in Florida; the vice president for development for The Learning Connection, a nonprofit educational research corporation; and as the chief academic officer for a charter school organization in Los Angeles.
In 2007, Snowberger worked as the director of learning services in Colorado Springs, then as the executive director of schools before becoming the assistant superintendent. Through those positions he’s helped support the learning of all types of students including gifted students, those with learning disabilities and those who have English as a second language.
Snowberger said he feels his experience has prepared him to become a superintendent. He said the Helena job caught his interest because the district is known for being progressive and has a strong a commitment to improve student achievement.
He said before making decisions he solicits input from all stakeholders.
“We develop an action plan and then work on the budget,” he said.
Snowberger is not a newcomer to the financial aspect of schools. In the past four years, the Harrison School District has slashed its $70 million operating budget by 15 percent. In the end, he said, the system became more efficient and effective.
He says implementing a rigorous pay-for-performance plan was one of the innovative ways used to boost efficiency.
He says he’s not afraid to make hard decisions and changes and sometimes that comes with mistakes.
“We have to do what’s best to educate our kids — sometimes we try new things and mistakes happen,” Snowberger said.
He describes himself as a risk-taker who allows people to make mistakes.
Snowberger doesn’t try to hide his mistakes and said if a district is operating as transparently as it should, it’s not easy to hide them.
He says he works with a “servant leadership” philosophy leading from the side and “not from the top down.”
Snowberger says he’s not a micromanager and says working alongside colleagues inspires people to work hard.
He said in his letter to trustees that he believes in leading from a position of visibility by spending time in schools and with building administrators.
Snowberger is the father of three children. He said he spends a lot of time at sporting events.
The board is scheduled to reconvene today at 4 p.m. at the Front Street Learning Center, but trustees won’t necessarily make a final decision. Chairman Michael O’Neil said the board will take the time it needs to make a good decision.
The board has its regular scheduled work session on Tuesday, March 20, and further discussions about the future superintendent could be added to the agenda. O’Neil also said that other meetings could be scheduled next week if necessary. The goal is to have a decision by spring break, which begins March 26.
Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081, email@example.com or Twitter.com/IR_AlanaListoe