The Manhattan School District has hired a temporary superintendent who will start July 1, but if everything goes smoothly, the school board may extend the contract, board chairman Rob Brownell said.
Trustees unanimously hired Jim Notaro, a retired administrator with 34 years of public education experience, said Joe Brott, director of policy services with Montana School Boards Association, which helped the school district with its search for someone to replace outgoing Superintendent Jerry Pease.
Notaro was superintendent of Ekalaka and Target Range school districts, Brott said. He was also the principal of Stevensville High School and Bonner Elementary School.
“The superintendent experience is there dealing with unions and budgeting issues,” Brott said.
Notaro accepted a contract offer last week and will receive $82,000 for the one-year position, Brownell said.
The board has struggled to find a permanent superintendent after advertising the position early this spring. The job was offered to two different people, but both educators turned down the position for different reasons. A third candidate withdrew from the race.
While Notaro’s hire is a temporary fix, Brownell said the board will regroup and advertise the position next year.
Depending on the regular January superintendent evaluation, Notaro could be asked to stay an additional year.
“This gives us a little time to regroup,” he said. “We can talk about whether we want him to stay another year in January. It just depends on the situation. We’ll either open it up or go with him for another year.”
Contract negotiations start again this summer and Brownell said Notaro will be able to assist in the talks.
“He’s done this stuff before,” he said. “He’s had a very good relationship with his staff and had a good rapport with kids and community members. I’m looking for the transition to be very smooth and he will do right by the people in the district.”
In past board meetings, Manhattan teachers’ union leader Adam Priquette said some teachers were not in favor of hiring a temporary position and wanted someone long term. But since those offers didn’t bear fruit, Priquette said the union is willing to work with Notaro.
“We don’t know a lot about him, but maybe having a change in pace would be good for everyone,” he said. “We know the budget isn’t real flexible at this point in time. We’ll let the guy come in and tell us what he thinks he can add to the system.”
Notaro will attend the June board meeting, Brott said.