GREAT FALLS — After serving as Superintendent for Great Falls Public Schools since 2019, Tom Moore will be retiring at the end of the school year.
"We're going to take some time and travel and relax," Moore said. "I've been working for 43 years in education."
Moore said it has been a decision of his for the past three years, to not pursue a new contract given that he'd be 65 this year. He then told the board the same thing last year.
"I was wanting to give the board and community enough time to go out and do a good search for a replacement superintendent and get ahead on the spring hiring season."
Moore noted that he will spend several months to see his children and grandchildren. He plans to stay in Great Falls and will continue to be involved in his community.
Moore has worked for Great Falls Public Schools for 17 years.
"We have a great school district," he said. "The thing I love most about this place is the people I get to interact with in the community ... We have a great team of leaders here at the district level and in our school buildings. Our administrative teams and our teacher-leaders are fantastic. We have great working relationships. I think the district is in really good shape right now, not necessarily because of my leadership, but because of the folks we have in the district and that we have had for a long time."
Moore said there has been some challenges along the way, noting the ten years of budget cuts and reductions.
He credits the turnaround to a bond issue that was passed under his predecessor, Tammy Lacey in 2016.
He also discussed the challenges that the school had to face due to Covid and said he has worked to help promote mental health amongst students and staff. Another challenge he noted, was paying competitive wages for all employee groups.
Despite some of the challenges, Moore said there has been tremendous progress, such as the addition of two schools, and upgrades to various buildings. He said passing an operational levy during the pandemic was crucial.
"Financially, right this minute, because of some of the federal money we received from the Covid Pandemic experience, the district has been very wise in how we allocated those dollars and how we make cuts and reductions when we needed to."
Moore said he also been keeping an eye on student success and workforce readiness, adding he is very pleased with the progress. He noted the JROTC Unit has grown adding the partnerships that were made with Montana Air National Guard and Malmstrom Air Force Base.
The school board will be working with other firms in the search process for the next Superintendent.
"My advice to the next leadership team is make sure that you really connect with the community," Moore said. "That is one of the things I've enjoyed most about my work as Superintendent. It's an awesome experience to know that I have connections and relationships with our mayor, county government officials, city government Officials, and state officials. Getting out and about and having relationships with our community partners."
As Moore reflects on his tenure, he said the one thing that stands out to him is the pride in the schools and the children.
The board hopes to detail their final plan for the Superintendent search process at their next meeting on November 27th.