District 14 school board selects new superintendent

May 10, 2013 By Christina George Staff Writer

Terry Smith will replace longtime leader Michelle Hoffman.

Fremont County School District 14 Board of Education selected a new superintendent to replace longtime leader Michelle Hoffman during a special meeting May 1.

Terry Smith will assume duties as head of the Wyoming Indian Schools district in Ethete on July 1 after trustees agreed unanimously to offer him a two-year contract.

Smith's background in education spans 27 years. He currently serves as director of Impact Aid in Lapwai, Idaho. He was one of four finalists for the position, beating out Wyoming Indian High School principal Phil Garhart, Nicholas Schafer of Morrill, Neb., and Mathew Neal of Denver.

Board chairwoman Belle Ferris said trustees had received 22 applications for the position, and the board members spent "many hours" selecting the top four candidates.

"All candidates displayed characteristics, which the board found as positive, so making the final selection has not been an easy task," Ferris said. "We believe the chosen candidate will help provide a consistency, which we feel is an important piece to student achievement."

The board previously agreed on a transition process with Hoffman and voted to increase her contract an additional six months through December 2013 with the expectation that she would work alongside the new superintendent for a period of time.

"It is the expectation of the board that Michelle will work closely with the new superintendent in helping with the understanding of not only the policies and procedures within our district, but to help in the understanding of Wyoming educational systems," Ferris said.

Hoffman has served as superintendent at Wyoming Indian since 2004. She's worked in the district for 26 years in various capacities, such as a special education teacher, director of the special education program, middle school principal, curriculum director and consolidated grants writer.

Hoffman announced her decision to retire in 2011 after agreeing with the board to implement a transition process for a new superintendent because of several projects, including a new elementary school, that are under way.

Ferris said since Hoffman informed the board of her decision to retire, there have been several worries about keeping a consistent focus for the district.

"These concerns have been voiced by board members, staff and community members alike," Ferris continued. "I can assure you that the board has worked very hard in this superintendent selection process.

"The board wants the very best for our district and has worked and will continue to work toward this goal," she added.

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