Mark Thane, the superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools, announced Tuesday afternoon that he is retiring from the district effective June 30, 2019.
“It’s been an absolutely wonderful career and as I look at the prospect of retiring, there is always that next project out there but I do think right now, we’re really well positioned for someone to come in and not only sustain where we’ve been but really to move the district forward,” Thane said.
Thane told the Missoulian that he has been thinking about retirement for a while and that it seemed like an appropriate time for him to leave, after serving the district for 39 years.
“I speak on behalf of all trustees in saying that it has been a privilege to work with Mark as our superintendent,” MCPS Board of Trustees Chair Marcia Holland said in a statement. “Mark is everything a superintendent should be: a thoughtful listener, a capable leader, and a tireless advocate for public education.”
Thane began his career at MCPS as a teacher and worked his way up to being a principal, executive regional director and executive director of human resources and labor relations. He began serving as the district's interim superintendent in June 2015 and was subsequently offered a contract in July 2015 to expire on June 30, 2019, when Thane is choosing to retire.
Thane said he felt like the timing was appropriate because of the district's status on projects that have been in the works, such as school construction.
“We have accomplished a great deal in regard to not only our facility projects but also in terms of where we’re headed instructionally in the district,” Thane told the Missoulian.
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Thane said he’s proud to have passed Smart Schools 2020 bonds in November 2015. The voter-approved bonds have funded construction and renovations at all MCPS schools, projects that are nearing completion.
Thane said he is also proud to have added the early kindergarten program this year. It will serve as an early intervention to help targeted students become better prepared for kindergarten.
Thane likewise praised of the teaching and learning department’s efforts to enhance curriculum and said that he could not be more proud of the district’s teaching staff.
The district has accomplished a lot on its five-year strategic plan, Thane said, adding that he feels there should be new leadership to develop and execute a new strategic plan as the current plan nears its five-year mark.
The board will be responsible for hiring a new superintendent following Thane’s departure. Thane said he plans to do everything he can to support whoever is chosen through the transition period.
“I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve with amazing colleagues — certified, classified and administrative — who challenged me and mentored me along the way,” Thane said in the press release that announced his pending retirement.
“In my career, I have also been incredibly fortunate to work with hundreds of students and their families; those experiences have been a source of great joy and satisfaction.”