The Kalispell Public Schools Board of Trustees next month will interview four candidates for the district’s vacant superintendent position. The board on Tuesday night voted unanimously to move forward with four of the seven applicants seeking to take the helm of the Flathead Valley’s largest school district.
The superintendent position is currently held by Randy Cline, who was hired in May on an interim basis after the board voted to fill the position on a temporary basis following the departure of superintendent Micah Hill. Cline served as a longtime teacher and administrator in Frenchtown before retiring in 2020. He stepped out of retirement last fall to serve as Kalispell’s interim superintendent, helping to guide the district through a transitional year. His final day as the Kalispell interim superintendent will be June 30.
The board will conduct in-person interviews and site visits on Feb. 5 with candidates Matt Jensen, Tom Myer, Joseph Libby and Kimberly Fricker.
Matt Jensen is the current assistant superintendent of the Kalispell Public Schools. Prior to coming to Kalispell, Jensen served as the superintendent of the Bigfork School District for seven years.
Jensen is a 1999 graduate of Flathead High School who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana, a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Phoenix and a superintendent endorsement from the University of Montana. Prior to his career as a superintendent, Jensen taught history, government and economics in the Bigfork schools and served as the elementary and middle school principal and high school principal in Bigfork.
Jensen was a finalist for the Kalispell Public Schools interim superintendent position last spring. While school board members and parents lauded Jensen’s skills and passion, calling him “dynamic” and “exceptional,” the board ultimately selected Cline as interim superintendent, arguing that it would be beneficial for the district if Jensen stayed in the assistant superintendent role during the transitional year.
Tom Myer is the superintendent of the Bellevue Community School District in Bellevue, Iowa. Myer has served as the Bellevue Community School District’s superintendent since 2014. Before becoming superintendent, he served as a guidance counselor, associate principal, curriculum director and principal in school districts across Iowa.
Myer holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell College in Iowa, a master’s in counseling and student affairs from the University of Wyoming and a doctorate in education from Drake University.
Joseph Libby is the superintendent of the Sibley East Public Schools in south central Minnesota. Prior to becoming superintendent in 2021, Libby served as the executive director of the West Des Moines Community Schools in Iowa. His tenure in education has included roles as a principal, assistant principal, program administrator and science teacher in a number of schools in Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota and Texas.
Libby holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and coaching from Iowa State University, a master’s in education from St. Cloud State University and a doctorate of education from Saint Mary’s University in St. Paul, Minn.
Kimberly Fricker is a California-based educator who was previously the superintendent of the Rim of the World Unified School District in San Bernardino County, Calif. Fricker served as the district’s superintendent for one year before resigning last fall. Fricker was the assistant superintendent and executive director of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, a high school principal in the Orange Unified School District and an assistant principal in the Huntington Beach Union High School District. She was also a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California and an associate professor of educational law at California State University – Long Beach.
Fricker holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan Technological University, a master’s of counseling from Wayne State University and a doctorate of education from the University of Southern California.
Trustees on Tuesday said they are looking to find a candidate who has both building-level experience and superintendent experience, as well as someone who is an effective communicator.
“We’re a growing AA district, and I think we really need someone who has that superintendent experience,” trustee Sue Corrigan said.
The school board on Feb. 5 will hold an open community forum with the four candidates in the Flathead High School Flex Room. The forum will be followed by site visits and individual interviews on Feb. 6. The board will deliberate immediately following interviews.
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