New Fremont administrator makes return to Idaho

Fremont County school trustees have hired a veteran Idaho administrator after his contract was not renewed in Wyoming.

Byron Stutzman is set to take over the East Idaho district as its new leader after he was let go from the Crook County School District in Sundance, Wyo.

“We are happy to have him,” said Fremont trustee Bonnie Moon. “His experience as a superintendent was very appealing.”

Stutzman spent four years as the superintendent for Idaho’s Buhl School District before he landed the top job in Crook County in 2013.

Moon pointed to “very positive” references from Buhl.

“Everything we heard from people in Buhl was great,” Moon said. “He did some great things there.”

The review was not as glowing from Crook County.

“We entrusted him (Stutzman) to communicate with people in three major parts of the district here, and he didn’t really do that,” said Josie Pearson, vice chair of the Crook County School Board. “I think his biggest problem is with communication.”

Crook County Board Chair Brian Marchent declined to comment.

Moon said Stutzman was “very open” about his time in Wyoming during the vetting process in Fremont County.

“We simply didn’t see the circumstances there as having an effect on his opportunity here,” Moon said.

Moon also said Fremont County board members received positive references from some educators at Crook County. Specific details surrounding Stutzman’s departure from Wyoming were brought up during an executive session in Fremont County, but Moon said they could not be “discussed publicly.”

Stutzman said turnover on the school board, not a problem with his communication skills, resulted in trustees’ unwillingness to renew his contract in Wyoming.

“We built two new schools in three years, and I just didn’t get to know those new board members very well,” Stutzman said. “They hired me to fix the district and then hired one of their own to replace me afterwords. I really feel that I left Crook County on what I see as amicable terms.”

Stutzman said he’s excited to return to Idaho.

“Years ago, I was a plowboy in Buhl on a family farm,” he said, “but I always wanted to be a wrestling coach here.”

After marrying a teacher in Buhl as a young farmer, Stutzman gravitated to a career in education. While farming, he pieced together his credentials to enter the classroom. He first taught in Jerome and worked his way into administration. He jumped from a middle school principal in Buhl to becoming the superintendent six years later. A four-year stint as superintendent led to the position in Wyoming.

Stutzman, who lamented the “problem of funding” in Idaho, added that gathering money from private donors has been a hallmark of his leadership.

“Many districts just don’t know about the money that’s our there,” he said. “During my time in Buhl, I helped the district received two different 21st Century community learning grants, each providing about $100,000 for five years. I hope to bring that type of leadership to Fremont County.”

Stutzman will finalize the terms of his contract for with the Fremont board this week. He succeeds Garry Parker as the district’s superintendent.