At a special meeting Monday night, Belgrade School Board Trustees voted six-to-one to open the high school principal position to candidates in and out of the district. By the same margin they decided to hire Belgrade Middle School Teacher Shanna Smith as the new assistant principal in the high school.

Trustee Bob Marx was the lone dissenter.

Superintendent Candy Lubansky said Belgrade High School Principal Russ McDaniel tendered his resignation Friday. Lubansky recommended the position be opened right away.

“What I would propose at this point is that we post our high school principal position both in and outside (the school district) for two at least weeks,” Lubansky said. “And then formulate an interview team inclusive of board members and then fill that position.”  

Trustees did not discuss the specifics of McDaniel’s resignation. Lubansky said the board never held an executive session to talk about McDaniel either. Lubansky has said McDaniel’s absence from end-of-the-year school activities was a “personnel issue.”

The matter was also never discussed at the regularly scheduled June 9 Belgrade School Board meeting.

Lubansky said she will start working to create a principal interviewing committee today. That committee will be comprised of herself, Belgrade District Curriculum Director Mark Halgren, middle school principal Julie Mickolio, school board trustees, high school teachers and a community member.

“Procedurally, we do try to interview all internal applicants if they’re qualified for a position because we want to always consider looking internally,” Lubansky said.  

The job will be posted in print and online, including the Montana Office of Public Instruction website, starting today. The district will accept applications at least through the end of the month.

The 2013-2014 was McDaniel’s second year as the permanent principal at Belgrade High. Three years prior, McDaniel was pulled up to an interim position as top principal after Kevin McNelis was injured on the job. When it was determined that McNelis could not return to the school, McDaniel was hired.  

Smith attended the meeting Monday night. Gary Kidd, who served as the high school assistant principal for the 2013-2014 year, will move into a role as the Belgrade Middle School assistant principal. Kidd replaced Jan Riebhoff, who retired this year after 45 years in education.

After trustees made it through the agenda items, they took a short break and reconvened for an unadvertised executive session.