GREAT FALLS – The Great Falls Public Schools’ Board of Trustees held a special meeting Wednesday to vote on their nomination for the next GFPS superintendent.
After nearly two hours of deliberation, the board motioned to delay the vote.
They narrowed it down to three finalists: GFPS early education superintendent Thomas Moore, GFPS Lincoln Elementary School principal Jon Konen, and a superintendent from out of state, Gregory Nyen.
The meeting kicked off with board members voicing their opinion of who they thought would be the best fit for the district.
Many describe Jon Konen as passionate and enthusiastic but when it comes down to a decision his lack of experience hurts him.
“Jon’s time is in the future and I hope he does not leave the district. He has a bright future,” Chairman Jan Cahill said.
When it came to Thomas Moore some of the trustees stated that he is “ready to go” and that it would be an easy transition.
As for Nyen, trustees mentioned bringing someone out of state is a good thing.
“We need someone that can cut to the core of the problem and make a decision,” trustee Ann Janikula said. “I hear people say he’s not from Montana. He brings something new and if we are afraid of that, shame on us.”
The first motion came from trustee Jason Brantley. Brantley motioned to have Thomas Moore considered.
That’s when the hesitation came from a board member.
Trustee Kim Skornogoski says she does not have a favorite when it comes to the three candidates.
“We’re not talking about the lesser of two evils,” Skornogoski said.
She says she feels that there was not enough time to make a decision.
The board interviewed the three candidates Tuesday night and then took public comment. Skornogoski says making such a big decision with less than 24 hours to process it is unfair.
“It was not until 8 o’clock last night that we were given public feedback. It’s very critical to me in making a decision,” Skornogoski said.
Other board members admitted to wanting more time with each candidate too.
“I’m a big believer that we will go farther together. I really want the time to process that information, be able to ask follow up questions and address any concerns that we might have about either candidate,” Skornogoski said.
Another motion was initiated by trustee Teresa Schreiner. She motioned to have Gregory Nyen nominated. That motioned was denied.
A third motion was by Jeff Gray. He nominated Thomas Moore. That motion was once again denied.
“Whenever you are selecting the person that is going to lead the school district, we hope for a number of years, we want to make sure that we have absolutely made certain that we’re picking the best candidate,” Cahill said.
The board motioned to delay the vote.
On Thursday, January 24th at 5:30 the board will interview two candidates again.
Assuming both candidates accept the second interview, Thomas Moore will be brought in and Greg Nyen will be interviewed via Skype or conference call.
Once the interviews are complete, the board will take a brief break and then rejoin to make a motion to nominate.
“We’re entrusted by the voters to pick the absolute best person out of the candidate pool that we have. If we have to wait another week to make that decision, which is certainly the majority vote, I support that. Dr. Nyen and Tom Moore will know that they have certainly been vetted more than we have in the past,” Cahill said.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News