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The Bonner School District has a new superintendent after trustees formally voted to ratify a contract with Jim Howard at a meeting Wednesday night.

Howard comes to Bonner from the Campbell County School District in Gillette, Wyoming, where he was the associate high school principal.

Before the job in Wyoming, Howard was the seventh- through 12th-grade principal in Fort Benton for seven years.

He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Bethel University in Minnesota, and a master’s in educational leadership from Montana State University.

Four members of the board were present for Wednesday's vote. Trustee Ryan Ludemann declined to comment on the hiring, and said the board was referring all questions about it to Elizabeth Kaleva, a Missoula attorney hired to negotiate the contract.

Howard's contract is for two school years, and he will receive an annual salary of $88,000. He was not present for the vote.

Earlier in the week, the board held a meeting where it interviewed three candidates for the position.

Besides Howard, the board spoke with Monte Silk and Brett Banker at the open forum Monday before deliberating and voting on their top pick.

Silk was the superintendent in Corvallis from 2009 to 2014, and had worked as superintendent of the public school district in Snowflake, Arizona, prior to that.

Banker is the superintendent of Anderson Public Schools in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, a position he has been in for three years after serving as a teacher and principal in the district.

Former Bonner superintendent Doug Ardiana resigned in June after 12 years with the district to take a position as the superintendent of Bandon School District in Oregon, which he began at the start of July.

At the end of March, Ardiana was arrested and charged with domestic assault, and was placed on paid administrative leave several days later.

According to court documents, he punched a family member who is a minor in the face multiple times. He was reinstated at Bonner on May 7.

On May 19, Ardiana received a 12-month deferred sentence as part of a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded no contest to an amended charge of misdemeanor assault.

Ardiana had previously been named western Montana's outstanding superintendent of the year for the 2011-2012 school year by the Montana Association of School Superintendents. He told the Bandon Western World newspaper that he applied for the position in Oregon in February, before the incident.

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