The Powell school board met Tuesday evening in an executive session to review applications and unanimously agreed on the three finalists.
“It was a hard process. Everybody was well-qualified,” Greg Borcher, chairman of Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees, said Wednesday.
The board hopes to hire a new superintendent by early February to replace Kevin Mitchell, who is resigning at the end of June after leading the district since 2007.
The first interview begins Monday, when Finch travels to Powell from Michigan.
Finch has served as superintendent of the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District in Big Rapids since 2005. Before then, Finch worked as the superintendent in Reese, Michigan, for six years.
Since beginning his career in education in 1989, Finch has worked as a math and language arts instructor, coach, assistant principal, principal and adjunct professor.
In addition to meeting with school district staff and the board, Finch will speak at a community forum at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Support Services Building (the remaining portion of the old Powell High School), 245 N. Evarts St.
Hamel will be the second candidate to be interviewed, beginning Wednesday. Hamel currently serves as the assistant superintendent for human resources and quality learning at Albany County School District No. 1 in Laramie. He has held the position since 2011, and also served as acting superintendent of the Laramie district during a transitional period in the spring of 2015.
He started his career in education as a math/science teacher and assistant coach in 1987, after graduating from the University of Wyoming.
He also has worked as an associate principal/activities director, head coach and principal. The community forum with Hamel begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, also at the Support Services Building.
The final candidate to be interviewed will be Curtis, beginning Jan. 30. Curtis has served as the Meeteetse Schools superintendent since 2010. He started with the Meeteetse district in 2008 as the K-12 principal.
Curtis started his career in education as an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser. His experience also includes serving as the head of a career education department, a community involvement coordinator and as an acting assistant dean of students. Curtis has ties to Powell, graduating from Northwest College in 1996 following his graduation from high school in Thermopolis.
The community forum with Curtis will begin at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, also at the Support Services Building.
The interview process spans two days for each candidate; they will meet with the district’s administrative team and a group of staff members that will include representatives from each school. Everyone will have an opportunity to provide feedback to the board, Borcher said.
“It’s important to the board that we hear from our administrative team and our staff and the public on how they feel,” he said.
Borcher encouraged residents to attend the upcoming community forums.
“They’ll have an opportunity to ask questions and, of course, listen to them and get a feel for how they might fit in Powell,” Borcher said.
Borcher said board members are looking forward to meeting candidates and welcoming them to the community.
The Wyoming School Boards Association (WSBA) has assisted the Powell school board with the search; two WSBA employees, Brian Farmer and Richard Strahorn, came to Powell on Tuesday to review applications with the school board, along with Wyoming Association of School Administrators (WASA) Executive Director Dan Stephan.
They helped narrow down the 18 applications to the top eight. The Powell school board then narrowed it down to five candidates and then to the three finalists.
“It’s been a good, smooth process,” Borcher said, adding he’s very pleased with how the board has worked together.
The board’s teamwork and organization also was recognized by the WSBA and WASA staff, Borcher said.
“Of course, we knew that, but it’s evident to other people, too,” Borcher said. “That kind of makes you feel good when you hear it coming from people who work with boards all over the state of Wyoming.”
Following the interviews, the board will meet on Feb. 1 and make its decision on who to hire. Once the contract is finalized, that decision will be announced — hopefully on Feb. 2 or 3, Borcher said.
“I look forward to coming to a decision and working with a new superintendent come July,” Borcher said.
He said he also wishes the best for Mitchell, who will take over as WASA’s executive director in July. Mitchell plans to remain in Powell.
“Kevin has been great to work with, and we’re going to miss him,” Borcher said.