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Kost to retire; superintendent’s contract renewed for two years

R.J. Kost R.J. Kost

Powell school board trustees voted Tuesday to start looking for an assistant superintendent and, separately, to retain the district’s current superintendent for the next two years.

At their regular meeting, trustees voted unanimously to extend Park County School District No. 1 Superintendent Jay Curtis’ contract through June 30, 2020, with compensation to be discussed at a later time.

As for the assistant superintendent, it’s not a new position, but simply a new title for the job now held by curriculum coordinator R.J. Kost.

Kost plans to retire in June after 36 years with the Powell school district.

“First and foremost, I would like to say thank you to Mr. Kost for his service,” said Curtis.

Curtis said he’s only had the pleasure of working with Kost since July, when he started as superintendent, “but it’s been a great six months.”

Kost joined the district in August 1982 and taught at Powell High School for 24 years. In July 2006, he became the curriculum coordinator.

Curtis asked the school board to consider changing the job title for Kost’s position to “assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.”

“I want to be really clear that the job is not going to change,” Curtis told the board Tuesday. “It’s not like there’s a new level of responsibility that goes with this; it’s not like the job is going to change.”

Curtis said he sees it as a logical change, and noted there would not be any budget impact with renaming the position.

“I think it provides a more concrete and logical chain-of-command in the school district in absence of the superintendent or in the event of something were to happen to me that caused me to be absent for an extended period of time,” Curtis said.

There’s also credibility that goes with the title, he said.

“This is also a position that does a tremendous amount of advocacy for us around the state, both with WDE [Wyoming Department of Education] and legislators, and the title just carries more weight than curriculum coordinator,” Curtis said.

He said the title also carries weight on a person’s resume.

“Having just hired a superintendent, you can perhaps think back to when you were reading through lots of resumes, and the words ‘assistant superintendent’ I would guess probably stuck out to you more than if someone said, ‘I am a coordinator,’” Curtis told the board.

He also noted that the position was previously called assistant superintendent. The district changed the title in 2006, since Kost didn’t have his administration certification.

“The job is the same; it is the title that changes,” Kost said Wednesday. “And I really have never in my life cared about a title. All I care about is success for the students of our district. That is all I have ever honestly put number one.”

The school board voted unanimously to change the title to assistant superintendent.

Curtis said he was going to open the search internally on Wednesday, and candidates within the district may be interviewed as soon as the end of January.

“I would like to stay ahead of the curve if we possibly can,” Curtis said.

If a suitable candidate from within the district becomes assistant superintendent, “it creates a domino effect,” he said. If several people change positions, Curtis said he doesn’t want to be hiring a teacher or administrator in late April or early May.

“I want to get most of this hopefully concluded before the hiring season kind of starts to fizzle,” Curtis said.

The Powell school board also thanked Kost for his years of service.

“I know you’ll be missed around here, but I think you’re going to be missed probably more on the sidelines at the football games,” said Chairman Greg Borcher, noting Kost’s many years as a statistician for the Panther football team.

“I hate to see you go,” Borcher told Kost. “But I understand it’s well-deserved, too.”

The school board also accepted the retirements of Pauline McAdam, head cook at PHS with 26 years of service, and Barbara Wimmler, the head custodian at Parkside Elementary School who’s been with the district for 17 years.

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