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Billings school board picks 3 finalists for superintendent

By David Jay,


BILLINGS - Billings School District 2 has narrowed down its list as they look to name the district's new superintendent.

The move comes after the board wrapped up its final two interviews on Thursday night at the Lincoln Center board room

The new superintendent will take over for Greg Upham as he prepares to call it a career after this year.

The board interviewed two candidates on Tuesday and two on Thursday.

The board chose three finalists:

  • Dr. Erwin Garcia, area superintendent for the Houston Independent School District
  • Tom Peck, superintendent in Lewistown
  • Brenda Koch, executive director for K through 12. Education for the Billings public schools.

Before the trustees talked about the superintendent candidates they heard from the two from Montana.
Peck has been the superintendent in the Lewistown School District for six years and served in the same role in several other school districts since 1998 in Montana.

Before that, he was a teacher in Washington state and Montana.

"My leadership style is, it's very collaborative," Peck said. "I believe I'm a unifier and I'm a consensus builder."

Koch has worked in education for 28 years, the last 12 as a kindergarten through 12th-grade executive Director for School District 2.

She has been a superintendent and principal for Elysian school, and a teacher and coach in Laurel and Lewistown.

"We have to have selflessness and put others first but that has to be coupled with high expectations and a genuine care for everyone," Koch said.

The school board asked several questions including about communication.

"It's therapy for me when I communicate with students to be at their events," Peck said. "And they notice. Students notice, whether it's a music concert, spelling, the science fair, sports activities."

"In person is what I prefer, because I feel that you can develop a true connection and rapport," Koch said. "And it's much more difficult for a conversation to become toxic and it's much easier to have a solutions approach conversation."

The board will hold public forums to meet the finalists next Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Center.

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