Three finalists vie for Columbia Falls school job

Superintendent interviews set for Tuesday

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Three finalists for school superintendent will visit this week to interview for the top job in Columbia Falls schools.

The public is encouraged to attend a community open house to meet the candidates at the Columbia Falls Junior High School cafetorium on Monday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m.

Twelve people applied to succeed retiring Superintendent Michael Nicosia and the school board recently narrowed the field to three candidates:

Craig Barringer, superintendent in Conrad; Kim Harding, superintendent in Sheridan, Mont.; and Steven Bradshaw, superintendent in Sitka, Alaska.

The school board will formally interview the candidates at the Columbia Falls High School library on Tuesday.

Those interviews will also be open to the public, with Barringer from 4 to 5 p.m., Harding from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. and Bradshaw from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The candidates will tour schools with Nicosia and the board on Jan. 27 with Bradshaw at 11 a.m., Harding at 12:30 p.m. and Barringer at 2 p.m. They will meet with faculty and staff in the cafetorium from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Open interviews and meet-and-greets with candidates are common. The Kalispell school district recently went through a similar process to find a successor to Superintendent Darlene Schottle.

Nicosia recalled that when he was interviewed in 1995, he had an open debate with the other top candidate in the high school gym.

ďThey even sang the national anthem,Ē he said.

Itís likely the School District 6 board will make a final decision by the end of the week.

Hereís a look at the three candidates:

v Barringer has been superintendent at Conrad Public Schools since 2011 and was an elementary and middle school principal there since 1998. Prior to that, he was a Title I teacher at Cut Bank and a third-grade teacher at Fort Benton.

He has a masterís in education and a superintendentís endorsement from the University of Montana. He received his bachelorís in elementary education from the UM Western College in Dillon in 1981.

In addition, Barringer has been the assistant summertime swim team coach for Conrad since 2008, an assistant wrestling coach at Conrad, the head wrestling coach and assistant football coach at Cut Bank and the head wrestling coach and assistant football coach at Fort Benton.

v Harding has been the K-12 superintendent and K-6 principal at the Sheridan School District since 2008. She was the K-12 principal at Garden Valley School district in Idaho from 2005-08, a mathematics teacher at Ronan High School from 1999-2005 and a math and science teacher at Mission Valley Christian Academy from 1994-97.

Harding received her superintendent certification from the University of Montana in 2007, her doctorate in educational leadership in 2010. She received her masterís in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Montana in 2002 and her bachelorís in elementary education in 1997.

While at Sheridan in 2012, there was an unsuccessful community petition drive seeking Hardingís resignation. Her accomplishments include renovations at the schools and higher-than-average standardized test scores among the study body there.

v Bradshaw has been superintendent for the Alaska School District in Sitka since 2002 and was the high school principal there from 1998-2002.

He was the high school principal at Red Lodge from 1995-98 and a counselor for the Alaska School District in Metlakatla from 1982-85. He was a teacher and assistant high school principal at the Hardin School District from 1976 to 1982.

Bradshaw was named Superintendent of the Year by the Alaska Association of School administrators in 2011. He announced his resignation from the Sitka School District last August and will finish out his term at the end of the school year.

He received a masterís in education from Montana State University in 1979 and a bachelorís of education in speech communications with an endorsement in psychology from Montana State University-Billings in 1976.

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