HELENA – The Helena school board has announced its shortlist of candidates to become the district’s next superintendent.
“I think we have six very solid, very competitive candidates, and I feel confident that Helena will end up with an excellent superintendent,” said board chair Sarah Sullivan.
The semifinalists include:
- Lona Carter, principal of Jefferson Elementary School in Helena
- Ember Conley, superintendent of the Park City School District in Utah
- Barbara Hickman, the former superintendent of the Flagstaff Unified School District in Arizona
- Tyler Ream, associate superintendent for academic performance and support with the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston, Texas
- Jim Shank, superintendent of the Coupeville School District in Washington state
- Greg Upham, assistant superintendent of the Helena School District
The district received 22 applications for the superintendent position. Trustees worked with the ECRA Group, a search firm from the Chicago area, to narrow the list of candidates.
Sullivan said the six semifinalists stood out because of their administrative experience. She also noted that each candidate has a master’s or doctoral degree.
“I think we were really fortunate this time to get a slate of candidates that was really well qualified,” she said.
The school board will host all six semifinalists for interviews in Helena on March 7 and 8. Those interviews will be open to the public.
Trustees expect to select finalists for the position on March 8. They will then bring those candidates back later in the month for additional meetings with the board, district staff and community members. Sullivan said they plan to choose the new superintendent by March 23, the start of spring break.
The next superintendent will replace Jack Copps, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Sullivan praised the leadership Copps has provided during his time in the job.
“He has been excellent at reaching out and connecting with the community, with families, with staff, with the business community,” she said. “That’s definitely a priority in what we’re looking for in a superintendent.”
Carter and Upham were both previously candidates to become interim superintendent after Kent Kultgen left the position in 2016. Copps was eventually hired.
Sullivan said the schedule for the candidates’ interviews will soon be posted on the district’s website.