Commission considers its options for superintendent of schools vacancy

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The lack of qualified candidates seeking to fill retiring Superintendent of Schools Linda Marsh’s spot may force the Beaverhead County Commissioners to contract for services with another county’s superintendent.

The commission discussed its options at the July 19 and July 26 meetings. The county received two letters of interest from residents wanting to be appointed to the role, but neither has a current teaching certificate from the state of Montana.

“The qualifications (in Montana law) require the person to live in the county and be registered to vote, to hold a valid teaching certificate, and to have had at least three years

Marsh’s last day is Friday. of successful teaching experience,” County Attorney Jed C. Fitch said. “You must have an applicant that meets these requirements to appoint. The way I understand it from discussions with Linda Marsh and (Commissioner) John Jackson, no one who has applied has a current certification. And we’ll need to verify that they have three years of teaching experience – that doesn’t have to be in Montana, but it does have to be three years.”

Marsh’s last day is Friday. The county could appoint another county’s school superintendent until either of the two interested candidates obtained the certificate, which is issued through the state Office of Public Instruction. Marsh said Madison County Superintendent of Schools Pam Birkeland is willing to fill in part time for $30 per hour; and Marsh is willing to help out a bit as needed.

City of Dillon Operations Manager Todd Hazelbaker and University of Montana Western retiree Mike Miller, have both expressed an interest in the post.

A county hiring committee will interview both candidates this week and make a recommendation for hire, but the commission cannot appoint either one until the teaching certificate has been obtained. The commissioners said they will look into setting up a contract with Birkeland to handle the duties until the position can be filled.