(HELENA) The Helena school board is honoring the district’s former superintendent by naming a library after him.
Trustees voted Friday to name the library at the new Central School after Jack Copps.
“Jack Copps has been outstanding in the field of education for many, many years, throughout his entire career,” said Terry Beaver, the board’s vice-chair.
Copps has spent decades working in educational positions around Montana, including serving as the Billings Public Schools superintendent and as the state deputy superintendent of schools. He was the superintendent of Helena Public Schools for several years in the 1980s. He then returned to the district in 2016, initially to spend one year as interim superintendent. He stayed in the job an additional year before returning to his retirement in 2018.
Central School, along with Bryant and Jim Darcy Elementary Schools, are set to move into brand-new buildings next month. Trustees said Copps played a key role in the successful $63 million bond proposal to pay for those three schools, which district voters approved in 2017.
“His efforts and abilities have allowed us to address the facility needs of the district for the first time in quite a few years,” said trustee Libby Goldes.
Trustees said a number of people in the community approached them about finding a way to recognize Copps. Beaver said they concluded the Central School library was an appropriate tribute.
“It’s going to be a beautiful, beautiful building, but the library is going to be one of the most central features of that building, in the way that it looks back over the central part of the city,” he said. “For us to be able to name that library in honor of Jack Copps is most fitting and most deserving.”
Copps told MTN he was thankful for the gesture, though he said he couldn’t take all the credit for the passage of the bond.
“Obviously, I’m honored and I’m grateful,” he said. “I think I hesitate a little bit, because I know what has caused the three new schools in Helena, and that’s a great community.”
In order to take this action, the board first changed a district policy that required them to wait five years after an employee leaves the district before naming a school facility in their honor. That waiting period was changed to one year.
Goldes said the new policy would give trustees time for consideration, while allowing them more flexibility.
The new Central, Bryant and Jim Darcy Schools are set for ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Aug. 23 and open houses on Aug. 24.
-Reported by Jonathon Ambarian/MTN News