North Gem names interim superintendent

BANCROFT — After acknowledging and correcting a violation of Idaho’s open meeting law, the North Gem School District selected Jonathan Braack from a pool of three finalists to serve as interim superintendent for one year.

North Gem trustees did not first publicly name finalists vying for the job, which is a requirement of Idaho’s open meeting law. The board later admitted the violation and self-corrected by naming finalists Braack, Joey Foote and Kelly Jo Fisk, a former administrator at Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center.

Jonathan Braack

Trustees then offered a one-year contract to Braack, board clerk Kari Lish told Idaho Education News.

Trustee Royce Hatch said Braack’s qualifications and ability to make an “immediate impact on the district” helped him stand out, according to June 28 meeting minutes.

Braack, who will receive $73,500, replaces outgoing North Gem Superintendent Rustan Bradsaw.

Braack has led districts in both Idaho and Wyoming but did not work in education last year. His Idaho teaching and principal certifications expired in August of 2018, according to the State Department of Education.

Braack told EdNews that his principal certification is in a “renewal process,” and that he’s pursuing alternative authorization until his superintendent credential is complete.

Braack taught secondary English before becoming an administrator in 2008. He served as an interim elementary principal in Pocatello for three years and as a Wyoming superintendent before returning to Idaho, where he served as an administrator at Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center and superintendent of the Shoshone-Bannock School District for two years.

An incomplete financial audit attracted attention from state officials during Braack’s time as superintendent of the Fremont County School District in Arapahoe, Wyo., according to Lander, Wyo.-based WyoFile. The district failed to complete a federal audit of the 2011-2012 school year on time, WyoFile reported in 2013. As a result, the state suspended Fremont’s federal funding. The completion of a later audit restored the funding but revealed that “unreconciled bank statements had discrepancies in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Fremont County’s then-board chair June Shakespeare blamed the missed audit on Braack and other district employees, WyoFile reported. Braack, who was the district’s superintendent from January 2012 through June 2013, blamed the missed audit on the original firm hired to conduct it.

Braack told EdNews that the district’s financial problems predated his hiring. “I have multiple references who were involved there who I worked with to help clean-up those financial issues once I arrived,” Braack said in an email.

Braack said he is now focused on helping North Gem embrace a model of continuous improvement and “working to define culture as our deep set of values.”

“My longterm intentions are to be in Bancroft as the superintendent for many years,” he said. “This is where we want to be.”

Braack received a bachelor’s degree in English teaching from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in education administration from Grand Canyon University.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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