BURLEY — School district trustees hired Jim Shank as the new superintendent April 2 after a meet-and-greet with three candidate and hours of deliberation.
Shank has been the superintendent for the Coupeville School District in Washington since 2013. His teaching background is in special education, and he has school leadership experience at elementary, middle and high school levels.
Shank was a school administrator in Idaho Falls from 1995 to 2000 and received his doctorate’s degree from Idaho State University.
“I align well with Cassia County,” he said at Monday’s meet-and-greet.
He has also worked at school districts that have multiple municipalities before, similar to Cassia County.
Questions were posed to Shank regarding his opinion on teachers being asked to do more each year and his take on preparing students for the changing job market. Shank said if a new task is given to teachers, the district should find a way to take away one to keep the balance.
Students need continual guidance from trusted adults and they should be taught skill sets like cooperative effort, he said.
“It’s hard to predict what jobs there may be in future,” Shank said. “But you can predict some of them.”
Shank and his wife, Sally, have six children. He began his career as a para-educator and received his undergraduate degree in special education at Brigham Young University—Provo. His education specialist and doctorate degrees are from Idaho State University.
Cassia County School District Superintendent Gaylen Smyer announced last year that he plans to retire June 30. He has been superintendent at the district for 11 years and worked for 39 years in education with the Cassia County district and two Utah school districts.
Along with Shank, finalists Glen Szymoniak and Sandra Miller answered questions Monday from district staff and the public.
Szymoniak, superintendent at the Dillingham City School District in Alaska, said he would let his employees do their job and not micro-manage them but he has the expertise to recognize if some department is not functioning correctly. He said his top three priorities were safety, including physical and emotional safety, high expectations and accountability.
Miller was hired as the assistant superintendent at the Cassia County School District in June 2016 and was previously the interim superintendent at the Minidoka County School District and served as that district’s student achievement and school improvement director. She was also director of federal programs for the district and principal at West Minico Middle School for seven years.
“I am a planner but I’m also a realist,” she said.
Miller said a teacher shortage is one of the biggest problems facing the district. The district should not “overburden teachers, or you’ll lose them,” she said, and the district needs to support pathways to recruit new teachers and help those interested in teaching but not certified achieve that status.