Interim leader won’t seek Blaine’s top post

Blaine County Interim Superintendent John Blackman said he does not plan to seek the district’s top leadership post vacated by former Superintendent Lonnie Barber.

John Blackman
John Blackman

Blackman was appointed interim superintendent on Sept. 27, after school board trustees approved a separation agreement with Barber, which was effective immediately.

Blackman first joined the district in 1984, and has served as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, and, most recently, assistant superintendent/ human resources director.

“Right now, I really see myself in a supportive role,” Blackman said. “I think I bring a lot of history and knowledge of where the district has been, where it is now and where we’d like to go. But I think I’ll bring that to whoever the new superintendent will be.”

Blackman plans to serve as interim superintendent until school board trustees can name a long-term replacement. Trustees plan to advertise the position and initiate a nationwide search, and Blackman hopes they can have a list of finalists identified by January or February.

That timeline would put the district in line to have a new superintendent in place before the new fiscal year begins July 1, 2014 and ahead of the 2014-15 school year.

The district serves students in Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue and the surrounding areas. Barber was the highest paid superintendent in the state, and his contract was worth about $680,000 at the time he left the district last month – including a $186,526 annual salary.

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In Barber’s absence, Blackman says he has identified several priorities for leading the district. He is looking to guide the district’s transformation of the dual immersion program, which offers roughly half of the instruction in math, science, social studies and language in English and the other half of instruction in Spanish. District officials plan to expand the bilingual program by converting Woodside Elementary into a full-time Dual Immersion magnet school next fall.

The move means that dual immersion programs currently housed across four elementary schools will be consolidated at Woodside.

“We want to make sure we don’t drop the ball with things we have already got rolling,” Blackman said. “They need me to continue that charge.”

Blaine County School District logoBlackman’s other goals as interim superintendent include leading the district through the first year of transition to the new Idaho Core Standards and maintaining successful International Baccalaureate and advanced placement programs.

Blackman’s 30 years of experience and varied leadership roles within the district would have appeared to fall in line with the district’s recent policy of promoting superintendents from inside. But he says he has found his calling as assistant superintendent, and values the human resources job of working with employees and the facilitating the evaluation process.

Blackman estimated that it has been 20 years since the district has brought in a superintendent from outside Blaine County.

“We haven’t gone through an open process with our superintendent’s seat in quite some time,” Blackman said. “Most superintendent’s have been brought up through succession planning.”

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