Superintendent Candidate Micah Hill Offered MCPS Position


MCPS’s administration building where the student interview was held.

After nearly two years of searching, The Missoula County School Board has made an offer to current Kalispell Superintendent, Micah Hill, for the position of MCPS Superintendent. This came after the school board created a nationwide superintendent search committee, with three candidates standing out. However, the school board re-opened the search after a universal decision that none of the initial candidates were suited for the job. Superintendent Hill — a Montana native– believes he is, and the Board agrees. 


On March 7, Hill spoke to student representatives from the five MCPS high schools: Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel, Seeley- Swan, and Willard. The purpose of this interview was for those who were going to be specifically affected by the decisions of the administration to ask questions. 


Hill, after introducing himself and speaking to his background and resume, claimed to have only the best intentions in mind.  He wants to be an “advocate for education and the students,” said Hill. He later went on to say simply, “I want students to have the best experience possible.” 


Many of the students, however, were concerned about his time as Kalispell’s superintendent. The Kalispell School District in the last years has had ongoing issues with mental health, such as a shocking spike in youth suicides. A Hellgate student asked Hill what the position of Superintendent would have in regards to mental health advocacy. “[We’ve] certainly dealt with our fair bit of challenges in Kalispell,” said Hill to the question. “Students have access to mental health resources and our staff as well.” Nonetheless, Hill did not elaborate on any specifics regarding mental health in Kalispell.  


While mental health is a leading topic amongst students, another is diversity. A Sentinel student raised this, asking, “MCPS is a very diverse community in a lot of different aspects, so how would you plan to cater to certain school and teachers needs throughout the district?” Hill replied, “What you are talking about is a need to recognize the diversity that exists, and then how do you build effective systems and supports for recognizing that?” He continued, “You’re talking about things like equity, what’s the difference between equity and equality?” After posing this question, he brought up the example of three people overlooking a fence and needing different supports to help them see, based on their height. “We all have the same opportunity to see over the fence, but does everybody have the same supports in place to do that?” 


Hill continued to respond to the question. “You mention ‘cater to the needs’, and I don’t believe that we necessarily have to cater to the needs, we have to recognize that there are different cultural differences between different schools,” said Hill. He then went on to draw a comparison to school rivalry within the Kalispell District. 


As MCPS Superintendent, Hill will oversee all schools within the district, a total of 17 schools. A Willard High School student spoke about the unfortunate non-presence past superintendents had had within the actual schools. Furthermore, the student mentioned that during graduation ceremonies, past superintendents had acknowledged their lack of presence and wished they visited more frequently. Hill responded, “I book time in my calendar, a whole year in advance, where I schedule time to go down to school.” He stressed how large the district was, and that he will “give the schools as much time as I can.”


The true concern that arose from students was how Hill planned on changing the schools, whether he saw any concerns from an outside perspective. “Not necessarily. I think there are some things to address when you look at it through a community lens,” said Hill, “Which is really what a superintendent does, they look up and out at the community.” Homelessness, rising inflation and workforce shortages were amongst the problems he planned on assessing. “I just look at things as those being global things, all of those things have an impact on what happens in schools,” Hill said.


Hill emphasized his opinion that being Superintendent is not solely about the students, but about the environment around them. Working on global issues is quintessential, as, like Hill said, the people who are the ones in need of jobs are the “people who are also parents, who are struggling with those same insecurities.” 


Hill referred to MCPS in general throughout his interview, saying that he was unsure of much of the culture within Missoula, stating he needed to do more research prior to the job. The one thing Hill maintained certain of was that “this community loves their schools and cares about students who come through that; and as they make their way through they want to see them be successful and be contributing citizens.” 


On March 14, Missoula County Public Schools Board of Trustees voted to offer the position operative July 1, 2023, to Hill, contingent with an agreed upon negotiable contract and Hill accepted.