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The school board of Billings selects three candidates for superintendent



Billings, Montana – In order to choose the district’s new superintendent, Billings School District 2 has trimmed down its choices.

The decision was made after the board completed its final two interviews on Thursday night in the board room of the Lincoln Center.

Greg Upham, who intends to retire after this year, will be replaced by the new superintendent.

Two candidates were interviewed by the board on Tuesday, and two on Thursday.

The panel decided on three finalists:

• Dr. Erwin Garcia, area superintendent for the Houston Independent School District
• Tom Peck, superintendent in Lewistown
• Brenda Koch, executive director for K through 12. Education for the Billings public schools.

The two from Montana spoke to the trustees before they discussed the superintendent candidates.

Peck has been the superintendent of the Lewistown School District for six years. Since 1998, he has also held the same position in a number of other Montana school districts.

Prior to that, he taught in Montana and Washington state.

“My leadership style is, it’s very collaborative,” Peck said. “I believe I’m a unifier and I’m a consensus builder.”

Koch has been a teacher for 28 years, the past 12 of which he spent as the executive director of School District 2’s kindergarten through 12th-grade program.

She has worked as a teacher and coach in Laurel and Lewistown as well as the superintendent and principal of Elysian School.

“We have to have selflessness and put others first but that has to be coupled with high expectations and a genuine care for everyone,” Koch said.

The school board raised a number of issues, including communication.

“It’s therapy for me when I communicate with students to be at their events,” Peck said. “And they notice. Students notice, whether it’s a music concert, spelling, the science fair, sports activities.”

“In person is what I prefer, because I feel that you can develop a true connection and rapport,” Koch said. “And it’s much more difficult for a conversation to become toxic and it’s much easier to have a solutions approach conversation.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, the board will host open forums where the public can meet the finalists.

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