Updated 4/27 with hires at Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Sugar-Salem and Minidoka and openings at Gooding and Mountain View.
There have been leadership shakeups at more than a dozen districts this school year.
Superintendents who’ve said sayonara may be headed for out-of-state jobs, retirement, or another district. Some of their spots have been filled, while in other cases, the search is just beginning.
Here’s a look at recent leadership changes around the state.
Idaho Falls chooses next superintendent
This week, Karla LaOrange was named as Idaho Falls School District’s next superintendent.
LaOrange is currently the elementary education faculty program director and department chair at Brigham Young University — Idaho and will assume her new responsibilities this summer.
“The board looks forward to working closely with the new superintendent to continue current district initiatives, address longstanding facility issues and ensure all students graduate with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to be successful beyond high school,” Margaret Wimborne, the district’s spokesperson, said in a press release.
LaOrange will replace Superintendent James Shank, who accepted a superintendent position at North Beach School District in Ocean Shores, Wash.
Gooding superintendent accepts top post at Minidoka County School District
Spencer Larsen, the current superintendent at Gooding School District, will take the reins of Minidoka County School District this summer, according to the Times-News.
Larsen will replace Interim Superintendent Rick Parker, who was filling in after “a separation agreement was reached” with former Superintendent James Ramsey (read more under ‘Abrupt resignations’).
The Gooding superintendent opening, which was advertised on the Idaho School Boards Association website, was set to close for applications on Thursday.
A Twin Falls principal will be the district’s next associate superintendent
Ryan Nesmith, the principal at Twin Falls High, is slated to become the district’s next associate superintendent.
“Being educated in the Twin Falls School District as a student, I had the opportunity to grow and learn from remarkable educators who not only had an impact on me academically, but were influential throughout my life,” Nesmith said in a press release. “I believe that the most significant thing a school district can do is to provide a quality education necessary for students to be successful in life.”
Nesmith will fill the role of Bill Brulotte, who is retiring this year.
Sugar-Salem School District chooses high school principal to be its next leader
Jared Jenks, the principal at Sugar-Salem High School, will become the district’s next superintendent.
This summer, he’ll take over for current superintendent Chester Bradshaw.
“We feel very blessed to have had the quality candidates that we did,” Kristin Galbraith, the district’s board chair, wrote to patrons in an email.
Mountain View superintendent resigns
Superintendent Steve Higgins announced his resignation in March and said his last day will be in June, according to the Lewiston Tribune.
“I think I’ve done my part in the public sector at this point,” Higgins told the Tribune’s Kathy Hedberg. “I want to get away from that piece. I enjoy working with people but 30 years in public education, I think I’ve had enough. My skin’s not nearly as thick as it used to be. I take things more personally and it has a negative effect on my family when I’m thinking more about the position than my home life and family. And that’s not healthy.”
Trustees are scheduled to determine semi-finalists for the position at an upcoming May 3 board meeting.
Superintendent Jackie Branum resigned abruptly in mid-March and Susie Luckey, a former Priest Lake Elementary principal, was appointed as interim superintendent until June 30. The announcement was made on the district’s Facebook page on March 20.
“I realize that this sudden change in leadership can lead to concern regarding the future of our district,” Luckey wrote on Facebook. “If you have a question or concern, find out the facts: One of the things that can really hurt unity in a community is when the rumor mill gets started, and inaccurate and/or exaggerated information is spread throughout the community.”
EdNews has filed a public information request to learn more about the leadership transition, and will provide a follow-up as soon as more information is available.
Rick Parker was appointed as interim superintendent on Feb. 2 after “a separation agreement was reached” with former Superintendent James Ramsey, according to a district press release.
“(Parker) shares the Board’s desire to have a smooth running district with great morale, great operational systems, and most importantly, great success for our students,” the district’s press release said.
According to the signed separation agreement, Ramsey was “granted a full release” from his position as superintendent as of Feb. 1. The reasons for his departure are unclear, but records show that the district is paying both Ramsey and Parker’s salaries through the end of the school year.
Shawn Tiegs, the current superintendent of Nezperce School District, was selected as Moscow School District’s next superintendent on March 8.
Tiegs replaces Greg Bailey, who will retire this summer after 10 years with the district, according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
Teresa Rensch will be the next superintendent of St. Maries Joint School District and begins her tenure on July 1. She replaces Alica Holthaus, who will retire this summer after six years as superintendent.
Rensche is currently the principal of the Konocti Unified School District in Lake County, California. Prior to that, she was the district’s director of curriculum and instruction. She has also worked as a principal, assistant principal, and teacher in the Tahoe/Truckee and Chicago areas.
Mackay School District is currently searching for a superintendent, as Susan Buescher is set to retire this summer. The district is currently advertising for a part-time superintendent on its website.
Kenneth Dewlin, the current principal at Weiser Middle School, will take over as Weiser superintendent. Wade Wilson, the current superintendent, is set to retire this summer.
Glen Croft recently (on March 22) accepted an offer to become Payette’s new superintendent. The current principal at Middleton Academy, Croft will step in for Interim Superintendent Brad Baumberger who will retire this summer.
Nezperce School District
Superintendent Shawn Tiegs will be heading the Moscow School District next school year, and a new superintendent has not yet been selected.
Idaho Falls Superintendent James Shank has accepted a superintendent position at North Beach School District in Ocean Shores, Wash., and will be leaving his post at the end of the school year, as first reported by eastidahonews.com.
The move to Washington “will give him a unique opportunity to work close to family,” Margaret Wimbourne, a spokesperson for the district, said.
“Thank you for the opportunities to serve,” Shank wrote in a statement to faculty and staff. “I hold dear the work that we accomplished together, particularly that which has had a constructive result for children.”
The position is currently open, and is being advertised on the Idaho School Boards Association website.
Longtime Superintendent Spencer Barzee was hired as director of Eastern Idaho regional support services — a new position at the State Department of Education. He will begin the position in August.
His superintendent position is still open and is being advertised on the Idaho School Board Association’s website.
Megan Christiansen was recently named as Teton School District’s superintendent. Her predecessor, Monte Woolstenhulme, announced his resignation on Oct. 3 after controversial raises.
Christiansen is currently the principal at Tetonia and Victor Elementary Schools.
“Being named the new superintendent has brought about all emotions,” Christiansen told Teton Valley News. “I feel energized, hopeful, and ready to get to work, but I also feel a sense of sadness and loss because I love my two schools and will miss the students, staff, and parents I see every day. Being the first woman superintendent in Teton Valley will hopefully inspire all children to know that anything is possible if you work hard, do all things with passion, and follow your heart.”
Gregg Russell was formally named superintendent at the Feb. 21, 2023 meeting, one year after his appointment as interim in Feb. 2022.
Russell stepped in as interim following upheaval among trustees and the abrupt resignation of superintendent Paula Kellerer. She is now a vice president at Idaho Business for Education and leads its youth apprenticeship program.
Bliss School District has an opening for principal/superintendent posted on its website. The current superintendent is Kevin Lancaster.
Patrick Goff is listed as the interim superintendent on Garden Valley’s website. He replaces Randy Thompson.
Take a look back at EdNews’ August superintendent updates.
EdNews Data Analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.