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MCPS administration building

The Missoula County Public Schools’ administration building on South Sixth Street West

After a nationwide search, Missoula County Public Schools has announced its top candidates to fill the superintendent position following Mark Thane's retirement at the end of the current school year.

The top three candidates are David Baugh, Jan Haven and Robert Watson.

Watson is the only finalist from Montana. Baugh is currently a superintendent for a Pennsylvania school district and Haven serves as a district leader in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The new superintendent will replace Thane, who announced that he will retire at the end of the current school year after serving the district for 39 years.

Thane, who attended MCPS schools as a kid, previously told the Missoulian that he has been thinking about retirement for a while. He said that it seemed like an appropriate time for him to leave as the district nears the end of its five-year strategic plan and inches closer to completing school construction projects.

The district started a nationwide search for a new superintendent following Thane's announcement earlier this year. They enlisted the help of a firm called Ray and Associates Inc. to recruit candidates near and far and finalize the $180,000 salary they will offer the new superintendent.

Watson is the only candidate of the finalists who has worked at school districts in Montana, including MCPS in Missoula. He is currently the superintendent of Bozeman School District, a position he's held since 2012. Prior to that, he was the principal of Bozeman High School from 2009 to 2012. He was the principal of Sentinel High School in Missoula from 2005 to 2009, as well as the principal of Rattlesnake Elementary School and C.S. Porter Middle School.

Baugh is currently the superintendent of Centennial School District in the Philadelphia suburb of Warminster, Pennsylvania; a position he's held since 2015. Prior to that, he worked in several other superintendent roles in school districts outside Philadelphia, as the acting superintendent of Neshaminy School District in Langhorne in 2015; and the superintendent of Bensalem Township School District in Bensalem from 2011 to 2015, where he was also the assistant superintendent from 2009 to 2011.

Haven is currently the central region director of instructional leadership for Milwaukee Public Schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Haven has held numerous director positions for various departments in MPS since 2013. Prior to serving MPS, Haven held leadership roles in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Haven has also worked as a principal, assistant principal and teacher for schools throughout Wisconsin.   

The public is invited to get to know the candidates at a meet-and-greet on Thursday, April 18, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Sentinel High School.

Community members also have the option to sit in while trustees interview the candidates on Thursday, April 18, at the MCPS Business Building at 915 South Ave. Trustees will select the new superintendent later that night at a special school board meeting.

Additional details on the search process and events can be found on the district's website at mcpsmt.org/superintendentsearch.

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