The Hamilton School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Monday night to hire Tom Korst as the new Hamilton School District superintendent. Korst, who will begin his duties on July 1, will replace Duby Santee, who is retiring at the end of this school year.

Korst is currently the assistant superintendent of Havre Public Schools. He was previously a principal of Seeley-Swan High School and a principal for the Seeley Lake K-8 Elementary School.

Korst has a bachelor's degree in business and English from Western Montana College, a master's degree in educational leadership from The University of Montana and is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership at The UM.

Hamilton school board chairman David Bedey said the district went through an exhaustive process to select the right candidate.

"We interviewed four really excellent candidates, and each possessed unique skills and experiences," he said. "In the end, we chose the best candidate who was the best fit for our school, and we voted unanimously. All four of the candidates had really excellent records."

Also applying for the job were James Baldwin, the superintendent of Alberton School District; Robert Connors, the junior high school principal in Stevensville; and Robert Lewandowski, the superintendent of St. Ignatius School District.

In the end, Bedey said it was Korst's ability to communicate that won him the job.

"Among his many strengths was his strong communication skills," Bedey said. "We feel this will enable him to engage with all the stakeholders across the community. And his deep understanding of education challenges at both the local, state and even national level really impressed us. He is very thorough, well-grounded and experience-based. He will be able to put forward a strong vision and mission that reflects community values, that will enable the board to establish priorities for the kinds of resourcing decisions we need to make when we are budgeting."

Bedey said there were 30 or 40 members of the public at the special board meeting on Monday, and the school board listened to their suggestions and comments before making the decision.

"We also had a lot of public comments," he said. "We had substantial public input on this decision, and Mr. Korst enjoyed strong support amongst many of the people that commented. Every one of the candidates had support, and that really speaks to the candidate pool."

Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or


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