HELENA — Helena Public Schools leaders have named their choice for the district’s next superintendent.
Trustees voted Friday afternoon to pursue a contract with Rex Weltz, the current principal of Rossiter Elementary School and the former superintendent of the Polson School District. The decision came after the school board held final interviews Friday morning.
The other finalist was Kevin Aten, the superintendent of the Bayfield School District in Bayfield, Colorado. Board members said both were extremely strong candidates.
Trustee Siobhan Hathhorn said they went through public feedback on the candidates before making their decision, and the responses were almost evenly split in favor of each finalist.
“That speaks that we have found people that the community feels are valuable,” she said.
However, trustees said they felt Weltz was the right choice because of his innovative ideas, his ability to put a strong team together and the success he’s already had in the district.
“As an internal candidate who gets along well with our existing superintendent, I think there is an opportunity to have a very meaningful transition process that starts sooner rather than later and that puts him in a great position to lead from Day One when he starts on July 1,” said board chair Luke Muszkiewicz.
The final vote to recommend Weltz was unanimous. Trustee John McEwen said he was initially leaned slightly toward Aten, but he wanted to join the other seven trustees in their decision.
Weltz is a Montana native. During a community meet-and-greet session Thursday night, he said he had worked as a teacher and principal in Montana, Alaska and Washington before becoming superintendent in Polson. He said he took the job at Rossiter as a way to work more closely with students again, and that he and his family had built a “dream home” in Helena. He said he was grateful for the opportunity to again become a superintendent.
Muszkiewicz is now authorized to begin negotiating a contract. If the district and Weltz reach an agreement, the trustees could approve the final contract as early as their regular meeting in March.
The search for a new superintendent began last September, when current superintendent Tyler Ream announced he would step down at the end of this school year. The school board considered 29 applicants to replace him. They narrowed the list to five semifinalists, then selected Weltz and Aten as finalists last week.