After a lengthy discussion and a handful of failed motions Tuesday night, Helena school district trustees set a salary range for a new superintendent, for which they’ll begin advertising soon.

Ultimately the board decided in a 6-3 vote at the work session to set the salary range from $135,000 to $155,000. Trustees Terry Beaver, Don Jones and Elizabeth Goldes were opposed. The contract will be simple but include health and retirement benefits, trustees said.

Jones said the low end of the salary should be what the previous superintendent was making when he left this summer at $144,000.

“It’s vitally important when thinking about what kind of candidates we want to attract,” he said.

Jones said other districts pay closer to $200,000 and trustees should consider the position they are in without undercutting themselves.

Board member Cherche Prezeau noted the pay freezes felt by state employees.

“We need to be fiscally responsible,” she said noting that the pay is already more than most area residents make.

Some of the trustees agreed.

“We have to think about what our taxpayers are going to say,” board member Joe Cohenour said.

Trustee Libbi Lovshin said there’s more to attract potential employees to Helena than salary.

Vice chair Aidan Myhre said not only is Helena a great community, but it has a school board that talks about putting students first; good negotiations with educators; taxpayers who consistently pass levies; and a stellar administrative team.

“People will be attracted to this district because of who we are,” Myhre said.

The board took public comment, and former teacher Barbara Rush offered the only testimony. She thought the salary range was too high.

School and community meetings are set for the week of Jan. 9, to identify and discuss achievements, challenges and important attributes in a superintendent necessary to serve the Helena district well.

The board set its own criteria for advertising the position, such as a visionary leader who maximizes resources effectively and a person who puts students first and works to improve achievement.

The position closes Feb. 22. Candidates are scheduled to be reviewed the week of March 6, with interviews the following week. The hope is to have a new permanent superintendent named before spring break.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or alana.listoe@helenair.com

(1) comment

Mountains
Mountains

Are there not qualified candidates already in the school system to consider?

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