GFPS board delays superintendent decision, opts for more interviews next week
The decision on the next superintendent of Great Falls Public Schools won’t be made for at least another week.
Tammy Lacey is retiring at the end of the school year, but the Board of Trustees couldn’t reach a decision on which candidate to hire during Wednesday’s meeting.
They narrowed the field to two candidates: Tom Moore and Greg Nyen.
Several board members said they didn’t have enough time with Nyen to rank him above Moore, who has been with GFPS for the last 12 years.
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Kim Skornogoski, a board member, said she needed more time to process the feedback from the community and the interviews.
The board opted to conduct second interviews with Moore and Nyen on Jan. 24.
The board could make a decision during that public meeting, or set another date for their deliberation and vote, according to Brian Patrick, GFPS’ director of business operations.
“This is the most important decision a school board can make,” Jan Cahill said at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.
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GFPS hosted a meet and greet with the candidates on Jan. 13 and conducted interviews with all three finalists, Jon Konen, Moore and Nyen on Jan. 15.
Jason Brantley said he didn’t feel Konen was ready just yet to serve as superintendent but could support either Moore or Nyen, though he didn’t know enough about Nyen to rank him above Moore.
He said with Moore “the transition would be swiftest.”
Teresa Schreiner said Nyen “would be my choice. You can bring in someone new and it’s value added.”
Jeff Gray said he supports Moore for the job.
“The learning curve with Jon and Greg is far too great,” he said.
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Ann Janikula said she believes Moore is great as an assistant superintendent but does not support him moving into the superintendent role.
She said she heard feedback from community members about not wanting Nyen since he’s from out-of-state, but didn’t believe that should be a factor.
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“Are we as Montanans so not open anymore to something new,” she asked.
Laura Vukasin suggested hiring a headhunter and starting the process over again.
Cahill said, “I do believe Tom Moore is the candidate that could move the district forward.”
Brantley motioned to offer the job to Moore, but that failed with a 4-3 vote.
After more discussion about the short timeframe the board had for the interview and selection process, Schreiner moved to offer the job to Nyen. That motion also failed.
Gray then moved to hire Moore, which again failed 4-3.
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Skornogoski made the motion to conduct a second round of interviews with Moore and Nyen and that passed 5-2 with Cahill and Gray dissenting.
Background information on each of the three finalists, as provided by GFPS:
Jon Konen – Since 2007, Konen has been employed by GFPS as the K-6 principal, instructional coach and 5th grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary. He has previously served as the K-12 principal and athletic director with Power Public Schools and as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in Somers Public Schools. Konen has a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Montana State University. He obtained his Montana Superintendent Endorsement in 2016 from the University of Montana.
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Thomas Moore – Moore is currently serving as the GFPS assistant superintendent 7-12 and has held this position since 2007. Previously, he held the positions of middle school assistant principal, middle school principal and elementary principal with West Valley School District in Spokane, Washington, and teaching positions with the Coeur d’Alene Public Schools, Lakeland Public Schools, and North Idaho Christian High School in Idaho. Moore has a master’s degree in education and administration from the University of Idaho and a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management/biology from the University of Wisconsin. Moore obtained his Superintendent Certification from Gonzaga University.
Gregory Nyen – Nyen is currently serving as the Superintendent of Schools for the School District of Waupaca in Wisconsin and has held that position since 2016. Nyen also serves as an adjunct professor with the University of Wisconsin.
Nyen previously held the following positions in Wisconsin: assistant superintendent of pupil services for Stevens Point Area Public School District; director of pupil services for the School District of Phillips; and school psychologist for the School District of Holmen.
Nyen has a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from the University of Wisconsin (Eau Claire); a master’s degree in school psychology from the University of Wisconsin (Stout); and an administrator’s license from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Nyen obtained his education specialist degree in educational leadership from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin; and his Doctor of Education in educational leadership and policy from the University of Wisconsin (Oshkosh).