MISSOULA – Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Thane feels the “time is right” for a new administration to plan the future of MCPS and that’s why he’s planning to retire at the end of this school year.
Thane announced his departure on Tuesday afternoon.
“You know there’s never a good time. And as I started making lists the last few months there’s certainly things that I would like to accomplish. But the reality is you never get all those accomplished. There’s never an opportunity for a clean break,” Thane said.
“It just becomes a matter of looking at it and saying ‘what is the best opportunity.’ And it seems like right now there’s enough that’s in the phase of nearing completion that it’s appropriate to take that look, to be a little reflective and then to allow the district to plan for the future.,” he added.
Thane has had a lot on his “to do” list since taking over as Superintendent just over three years ago. That includes implementing the massive “Smart Schools 2020” bond issue, which has seen MCPS renovating, rebuilding and constructing millions of dollars in school improvements.
That includes the opening of the brand new Jeannette Rankin Elementary School this week, the first new elementary the district has opened in a dozen years.
With that huge undertaking entering its final phase, Thane says the next step will be developing a new, five-year strategic plan, something he thinks a new administration should oversee.
But for the 59-year-old Thane, retiring will be the first time in decades that he won’t start his day at a Missoula school.
“Essentially for 54 years I’ve been getting up each morning and coming to Missoula County Public Schools, first as a student and then as a staff member. And it’s been a great 39-year professional career,” Thane recalled.
“As I reflect on it I think, you know, Jimmy Carter was President when I got my first paycheck in this district. And I actually have my salary schedule from my first contract and we had about an $11,200 base salary back then. We’ve progressed a lot in 39-years.,” he concluded.
Board Chair Marcia Holland says Thane has brought “a sense of personal commitment and professionalism as superintendent to make sure every student in MCPS succeeds.”
Thane had won the Western Montana Superintendent of the Year award for his accomplishments a months ago.