Superintendent shuffles: West Ada, Vallivue, Middleton school districts among those with new leaders | Local News

After months of searching, Idaho’s school districts have found new leaders.

Entering the 2021-2022 school year, 23 Idaho districts will have a new superintendent, showcasing an unprecedented amount of turnover over the past two school years.

School districts from all over Idaho saw changes in their leadership, from large districts like West Ada (the biggest in the state) and Oneida to small districts like Cascade and Hansen. Ten school districts decided to hire someone who hasn’t been a superintendent before, three of which (Lewiston, Madison and Vallivue) were promoted from the assistant superintendent position.

Some school districts will be getting veteran leadership, like long-time Vallivue superintendent Pat Charlton moving to Jerome.

Idaho also will be welcoming eight new superintendents from out of state. Montana is sending three new superintendents to Idaho. Other superintendents are coming from Wyoming, North Dakota, Oregon and Minnesota.

Here’s an alphabetical rundown of the state’s new superintendents. (Click here for superintendent salaries.)

Blaine County

Bruneau-Grand View

Trustees met on April 26 to selected Todd Shumway as superintendent of Bruneau-Grand View.

Shumway is currently the principal of Cassia High School in the Cassia County School District, a position he’s held since 2017. Before that, Shumway was the principal of Melba Jr/Sr High from 2010 to 2014 and the principal of Prairie High in Cottonwood from 2007 to 2010.

Bruneau-Grand View trustees accepted Ryan Cantrell’s resignation February.

Buhl

Buhl trustees met in a special session on March 4 to select David Carson as the district’s new superintendent. Carson is currently the Hansen School District’s superintendent.

Other finalists included:

  • Chris Harris, Superintendent, Yreka Union School District (Yreka, Calif.)
  • Chad Krug, Assistant Superintendent, Ulysses Schools District (Ulysses, Kan.)
  • Jennie Peterson, Director of Instruction, Kodiak Island Borough School District (Kodiak, Alaska)

On March 15, trustees approved a two-year contract for $110,000 a year for Carson.

Butte County

Trustees met on June 8 and selected Joe Steele to be the district’s next superintendent. Steele is the superintendent of St. Regis School District in Montana.

The pool of candidates for Butte County trustees included:

  • Steven Miller, teacher, Wyoming Connections Academy (Cody, Wyo.) 
  • Robert Daniel, principal, Sweetwater Co. School District (Rock Springs, Wyo.)
  • Thomas “Allen” Barber, principal, Eagle Point School District (Eagle Point, Ore.)

Cascade

The Cascade Board of Trustees met on June 12 and selected Kevin St. John to be the district’s new superintendent.

St. John is the superintendent of Choteau Public Schools in Montana.

Jeff Blaser will be retiring at the end of the 2020-2021 school year and submitted his resignation to the board on April 19. Blaser has been the superintendent of the district since 2018.

Cassia County

Trustees unanimously voted April 28 to name Sandra Miller as this districts’s next superintendent.

Miller is currently Cassia County’s assistant superintendent and curriculum director.

Current superintendent James Shank has accepted the offer to replace longtime Idaho Falls Superintendent George Boland at the end of this school year.

Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene trustees voted on April 19 to select Shon Hocker as its new superintendent starting in July.

The board hired Hocker on a three-year contract with a salary of $165,000 per year.

Hocker is the superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools in Dickinson, North Dakota, a position he’s held since 2018. He was one of two finalists for the position.

Current Coeur d’Alene Superintendent Steven Cook has accepted a position in the Oregon-based Bend-La Pine School District. He will leave Coeur d’Alene when his contract expires in June.

Garden Valley

Trustees met on June 11 and selected Randy Thompson as the new superintendent. Thompson is coming to Idaho from Georgia, where he was a business education and Spanish teacher at Bleckley County High School.

Thompson was not one of the five candidates that Garden Valley trustees first listed. The candidates for the superintendent position included:

  • Mark Winningham, director of schools, Overton County School District (Overton, Tenn.)
  • Brandt Shriner, director of special education, Anderson Union High School District (Anderson, Calif.)
  • Lester McCormick, principal, Fort Yukon School District (Fort Yukon, Alaska)
  • Daniel Lantis, superintendent, Hays Lodgepole School District (Hays, Mont.)
  • Thomas “Allen” Barber, principal, Eagle Point School District (Eagle Point, Ore.)

Vickie Chandler submitted her resignation and release from contract to the board on March 9, citing medical reasons. Jackie Johnson served as interim superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year.

Hansen

On April 13, trustees selected Angela Lakey-Campbell as the new superintendent. Lakey-Campbell is currently the superintendent of Oregon-based Imbler School District.

Other finalists for the position included:

  • Janet Avery, District Curriculum Director, Jerome School District
  • Jonathan Goss, Assistant Head of Schools and 7th-12th Principal, Xavier Charter
  • Kayla Kelly, Principal, Hansen Junior/Senior High School

Hansen’s Carson will be the superintendent for Buhl starting in July.

Highland

Trustees named Jacob Gion as this district’s new superintendent on March 8. Gion is currently the vice principal of Montana-based Baker High School.

Superintendent Sarah Hatfield’s resignation was accepted by the board on Dec. 14, 2020.

Idaho Falls

Trustees in the Idaho Falls School District selected Cassia County Superintendent James Shank to replace outgoing Superintendent George Boland at the end of the school year.

The 5-0 vote follows Minnesota-based superintendent Eric Pingrey’s decision to take a job in McCall, after Idaho Falls trustees voted 3-2 to hire him last week.

Trustees interviewed Shank for a second time on April 8 before spending several hours in executive session.

Boland announced his plan to retire on Dec. 4, after 15 years leading the East Idaho district.

Other finalists for the job included:

  • Dr. Matthew Neal, Superintendent, American Creativity Academy, Kuwait (Kuwait City, Kuwait)
  • Kelly Coughenour, Assistant Superintendent, Idaho Falls School District (Idaho Falls)
  • Dr. Sylvia McNeely, Superintendent, Wanette Public Schools (Wanette, Okla.)

Jerome

Vallivue School District Superintendent Patrick Charlton has accepted the superintendent’s position in Jerome. He was the only finalist for the position.

On April 5, the board agreed on Charlton’s contract with an annual salary of $132,500, the Times-News reported.

Charlton was also a co-finalist for the McCall-Donnelly superintendent position.

Dale Layne announced in February that he’ll step down as superintendent of Jerome at the end of the school year.

Kellogg

On May 3, Kellogg trustees voted to select Lance Pearson as their new superintendent. Pearson is currently the superintendent of Victor Public Schools in Victor, Mont.

Other finalists for the position included:

  • Bridgit Arkoosh, principal, Holy Family Catholic School, Coeur d’Alene
  • Janet Avery, curriculum director, Jerome School District
  • Silvia McNeely, superintendent, Wanette Public Schools (Wanette, Okla.)

Superintendent Nancy Larsen submitted her resignation to the board in January 2021 and finished out the school year.

Lewiston

On March 8, Lance Hansen was named as the new superintendent of Lewiston School District.

Hansen has been assistant superintendent at Lewiston for eight years. Before that, he was a teacher in Moscow and Emmett.

According to the Lewiston Tribune, Hansen’s contract with the district is for three years and comes with an annual salary of $147,000.

Robert Donaldson announced his retirement in February, following eight years as the superintendent and 32 years in the district.

Madison

The Madison School District will say goodbye to a longtime educator at the end of this school year — but leadership will stay in familiar hands.

Trustees accepted Geoffrey Thomas’ letter of resignation during the March 18 board meeting. The board hired Randy Lords as the new superintendent a day after that announcement. Lords has been Madison’s assistant superintendent since 2015 and has been in various roles within the district for 19 years.

Thomas, who filled the position for 20 years, has accepted a position as an assistant professor at Idaho State University’s College of Education.

McCall-Donnelly

Eric Pingrey, of Walker, Minn., will take over as superintendent of the McCall-Donnelly School District at the end of this school year. Pingrey is the superintendent of Walker Hackensack Akeley School District.

Pingrey chose McCall-Donnelly over Idaho Falls, where trustees selected him on a split-decision vote to replace outgoing superintendent George Boland.

Superintendent Foudy will be moving to the superintendent position at Blaine County School District.

Middleton

Middleton trustees voted unanimously early in March to name Marc Gee as the district’s new superintendent.

On April 12, Gee and the board agreed to a two-year contract with an annual salary of $130,000.

Gee is currently the superintendent at Preston School District.

Other finalists included:

  • Glen Croft, Principal, Middleton Academy
  • Jeff Dillon, Superintendent, Wilder School District

Oneida

Jon Abrams will replace Rich Moore as superintendent of this rural Southeast Idaho district at the end of the school year.

Trustees unanimously selected Abrams — the superintendent of Pine Bluffs, Wyo.-based Laramie County School District — from a pool of three finalists on March 4. Abrams’ contract with the district runs through the 2023 school year and gives him a salary of $125,000.

Other finalists included:

  • Joel Wilson, superintendent of the Butte County School District, in Arco.
  • Kevin St. John, superintendent of Philipsburg Public Schools, in Philipsburg, Mont.

Potlatch

On May 11, trustees voted to name Janet Avery as the district’s new superintendent. Avery has been the curriculum director at Jerome School District since 2013. Prior to her current role, she was the principal and assistant principal at Jerome Middle School.

Other finalists for the position included:

  • Bridgit Arkoosh, principal, Holy Family Catholic School
  • Daniel Lantis, superintendent, Hays Lodgepole School District (Hays, Mont.)
  • Brandt Shriner, director of special education, Anderson Union High School District (Anderson, Calif.)
  • Kevin St. John, superintendent, Choteau School District (Choteau, Mont.)

After a 40-year education career, Superintendent Jeff Cirka announced he’ll retire at the end of the school year. Trustees accepted his resignation on March 2.

Preston

Trustees named Preston elementary coordinator and special education director Lance Harrison as the district’s new superintendent on April 14.

Harrison emerged from a pool of three other finalists selected on April 9:

  • Destry Jones, assistant superintendent, board ledger, IT director, ISEE director and co-curriculum director, Firth School District
  • Anthony Morrison, principal, Tohatchi Middle School, Tohatchi, N.M.
  • Veldon Law, director of academic services and independent study, Brigham Young University

Trustees accepted Superintendent Mark Gee’s resignation during a March 17 meeting. The Middleton district named Gee as the new superintendent in March.

Soda Springs

Trustees unanimously voted to name Scott Muir as the district’s new superintendent during a March 30 meeting. Muir is currently the principal of Cassia County’s Declo Junior High and Albion Elementary.

Other candidates for the job were:

  • Destry Jones, Assistant Superintendent, Firth School District
  • Jeff Uskoski, teacher and athletic director, Soda Springs School District
  • Robert Daniel, Principal, Sweetwater County School District (Wyo.)
  • Todd Hale, Superintendent, North Gem School District

Trustees accepted the resignation of Molly Stein on Jan. 27.

Vallivue

On March 9, trustees voted unanimously to name Lisa Boyd as the district’s new superintendent. Boyd is currently the district’s assistant superintendent.

She emerged from a pool of three finalists:

  • Cindy Johnstone, Director of Curriculum and Assessment, Vallivue School District
  • Marc Gee, Superintendent, Preston School District

Superintendent Charlton announced his resignation during the board’s Nov. 10 meeting. While Charlton was originally going to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, he decided to move to Jerome.

West Ada

Other finalists for the position included:

  • Bret Heller, Assistant Superintendent, West Ada School District
  • Wendy Johnson, Superintendent, Kuna School District
  • Sam Jarman, Superintendent, Alpine School District, Alpine, Utah

Idaho Ed News reporters Nik Streng, Devin Bodkin and data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this story.