Craig Barringer has every intention of accepting the contract offer that will be extended to him to become the next superintendent of Libby schools.
“I have no intention of not coming to Libby,” Barringer said Wednesday night after the board meeting. “Yes, it would be a fair assessment to say I would accept the offer. I just feel like I need to talk to my (Conrad) board and let them know what’s happening. As fast as news travels, I feel like I need to let them know.”
Barringer, who is the superintendent of the Conrad School District, was unanimously approved by the Libby School Board on Wednesday night, and the board agreed to have Bob Vogel of the Montana School Boards Association draft a contract offer.
“Craig and I will sit down and negotiate a contract that will have to be approved by the Libby board,” Vogel said Thursday morning. “This could be three or four days or it could take two weeks. Sounds like Craig is on board, so it’s my guess this will probably take a week.”
Vogel, who has been contracted to assist in the selection process, said superintendent contracts are limited to a maximum three-year term, but this initial contract may be less.
“My guess is it will probably be a two-year contract,” Vogel said.
The Libby School Board has stipulated the contact offer to succeed Superintendent K.W. Maki will include a base salary between $98,000 to $104,000. Maki, 68, retires June 30.
“That’s fine. Whatever,” Barringer said. “In my career, it’s never been about the money.”
Before the vote, the board hosted a meet and greet with the public in the Central Administration Building’s conference room. About 25 people attended the meeting, which followed Barringer’s tour of the district’s two campuses.
“I’m impressed with what I saw,” Barringer said assessing his tours of the two schools during the meet and greet. “I enjoyed meeting with teachers and staff.”
Mostly, the feeling was mutual among visitors polled during the introductory reception.
“I think he has a realistic view of the school’s budget,” said Joe Cik, who attended the meet and greet. “I think he has an understanding of what is necessary to keep the programs going and graduation rates.”
Patty Rambo researched Barringer before formally meeting him during the reception.
“I know about him from other people — the Mees — who know him,” Rambo said. “I liked what I saw, and I’m glad he’s in the mix.”
Dan Rose offered a brief assessment after meeting Barringer.
“He’s good,” Rose said. “Very personable. My gut instinct is he’d be good for Libby.”
Ray Eanes had mixed feelings.
“I think he’s very personable. Outgoing, very friendly,” Eanes said. “I just think they should have considered Scott Beagle a little more. He’s our local guy, and does so much for the city. I realize he doesn’t have the (certification), but he’s working on it.”
Eanes wasn’t the only person who supports Beagle, a former principal at Asa Wood who is now an administrator at Libby Elementary.
Judy Graham, a kindergarten teacher at Libby Elementary, also supported Beagle.
“(Beagle) brought morale back to our staff,” Graham said. “A local guy, he has our community at heart. I would really like to see the board open this again to give him a shot.”
Todd Berget has known Barringer, 50, for years.
“I knew him back in college,” Berget said. “I never saw anything negative. Since, I’ve seen him at (Montana Behavioral Initiative) conferences. We’ve talked. I think he’s very personable. I think he’d be a good fit.”
Barringer has 28 years of education experience. He was a teacher for 12 years and served as a principal in Conrad for 13 years before being elevated to superintendent, a post that he’s had for three years.
“I feel like I have a good cross-section on education, having served in the classroom, as principal and as superintendent,” Barringer said.
During the 40-plus-minute interview, the full board took turns asking 16 questions of Barringer, which ranged from his philosophy, to advancing district goals, to extra-curricular activities, community and staff relations, technology and overcoming adversity.
Afterward, Dave Stephenson, a former district principal, weighed in on Barringer.
“I like his answers,” Stephenson said. “I’m comfortable with him. He’s got good values and a good demeanor. I think he’d be good for Libby. I just wish he’d have been involved in the first round.”
Before the unanimous vote to offer a contract, the board reviewed about 25 written commentaries from the estimated 30 who listened to the interview process.
“I think it’s interesting that all of these comments were positive,” said Board President Ellen Johnston. “I don’t want to delay (a vote). I think he’s a good fit for Libby.”
The 7-0 vote to extend the offer is contingent on Barringer passing a fingerprint background check.