Belgrade Superintendent Godfrey Saunders has expressed an interest to continue leading Belgrade schools, but if a deal can’t be reached the Belgrade School Board will solicit for a new administrator next month.

Saunders has been at the helm for two years in an interim position with two one-year contracts. District officials from trustees to teachers said Saunders is a dedicated leader and expressed a desire for a more permanent position for him at the regular school board meeting Monday.

Whether or not that happens is up to the board negotiating team, which consists of Trustees Holly Murray, Frank Stock and Steve Garvert.

Board Chair Mary Ellen Fitzgerald said if an agreement can’t be found by the regular January board meeting, the district will advertise the position.

Saunders retired as the Bozeman High School principal post in 2009 after serving for 13 years. Technically, he was still in retirement with Montana Teachers’ Retirement System when he first started as superintendent. 

What happens next depends on the negotiations, Montana OPI Deputy Superintendent Jule Walker said 

“Most contracts are based on negotiations with a District if a person is retired and collecting TRS,” she saidin an email. “If he/she does not take TRS or comes out of retirement, then that contract will be negotiated differently as well based on the fact that he/she does not collect their TRS benefit until he/she retires again. If a person re-enters TRS he/she starts a new retirement system.”

Saunders’ salary was set at $132,000 for his first year.