After five years on the job as Grand County’s top school official, Dr. Scott Crane is getting ready to step down.
The Grand County School District superintendent is scheduled to leave the district on June 30 to take the reins as the executive director of the Southeast Education Service Center (SESC) in Price.
Crane, who has worked as an assistant superintendent, superintendent and educator in Utah and Idaho for more than two decades, called the move the logical next step in his career.
“Through working with the SESC, I will be able to support public education throughout southeastern Utah, impacting the lives of not only students in Moab, but in Carbon, Emery and San Juan County as well,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity, and while leaving Moab is bittersweet, I look forward to what the future has to offer.”
The Grand County Board of Education accepted Crane’s resignation during its March board meeting, and trustees are continuing their search for Crane’s replacement.
Crane said he submitted his resignation well in advance to ensure that trustees have ample notification to find the right applicant for the job.
“I wanted to make sure that the board had plenty of time to hire a new superintendent,” he said.
To smoothe the path between administrations, Grand County Board of Education President Melissa Byrd said that school district officials hope to have a new superintendent in place on July 1.
Byrd said the board is looking for applicants who have proven strengths in Professional Learning Communities, strong leadership and management skills, and strong backgrounds in public education.
The district is advertising the position online, and according to Byrd, the Utah School Board Association created advertising brochures that were sent out to school districts and colleges across the country. The hope is that the national search will reach a wide number of candidates.
Byrd said that the district received several “very strong” applications for the position, which two subcommittees then reviewed, using a specific set of criteria, and then made recommendations to the education board.
One subcommittee included 12 community members, including parents and members of the school community councils, as well as members of Rotary Club and the Moab Chamber of Commerce. Twelve district staff members – including teachers, administrators and classified employees – made up the second subcommittee.
Trustees are scheduled to review the feedback from the subcommittees, and then decide which candidates they would like to interview. They hope to conclude interviews later this month, Byrd said, so they can begin the due-diligence process, including site visits and phone calls to confirm work histories.
Byrd is encouraging members of the community to contact the district if they have specific questions or concerns they’d like candidates to address. Residents can email those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Superintendent reflects on a busy five years
Crane joined the school district in the summer of 2012, following a long career with the Blackfoot School District in Idaho – including a five-year stint as that district’s superintendent.
While Crane will no longer be a day-to-day presence in Moab, Grand County High School Principal Dr. Stephen Hren anticipates that he’ll still be a familiar face in the community as he leads the SESC. The center provides the four southeastern Utah school districts with professional development support and technological expertise.
“I want to wish him well in his directorship of the South East Service Center,” Hren said. “I am sure we will continue to work together in some capacity as we are served by the SESC under his leadership.”
As Crane prepares to serve Grand County schools in a different capacity, he looked back on the district’s accomplishments over the last five years as the result of collaborative efforts.
“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done here,” he told the Moab Sun News. “I’d like to emphasize that it’s not one person. It’s people working together in collaborative teams and cooperative teams that can accomplish something like this.”
During that time, he said, officials improved the district’s bond rating, while refinancing the bond over the last five years to save the district $313,000.
“The better rate you have, the less it costs you, and the more people are interested in buying your bonds,” he said.
District officials also came up with a five-year capital building and repair plan, and they established a future building fund with a $3.1 million balance. That fund brings in an additional $1.2 million each year, limiting the district’s fundraising pleas in the event that officials move forward with a major project:
“If the board decides that it wants to build a new middle school, remodel the middle school or go back to its capital building and repair plan, we have the funds to do that, and we don’t have to go to the community and ask them for more money,” he said.
In one of the district’s biggest milestones of the past half-decade, board trustees placed a property tax measure in the amount of 0.001 per dollar of taxable value on the November 2016 ballot. County voters went on to approve the measure by a margin of just under 64 percent.
The school district had ranked second to last statewide in terms of salaries for beginning teachers. And with state-imposed limits on the way that it can spend its funds, district officials made the case that the local levy property tax would help bring employees’ salaries gradually in line with the state average, while boosting support for academic programs and general school district operations.
“We were able to come together as a community in support of the board-voted levy,” Crane said. “It’s a difficult process, but the community understood the importance of it … I’m very proud of that.”
The district also negotiated extra pay for its special education teachers, and Crane said he witnessed positive labor negotiations with the district’s certified and classified employees every year during his time as superintendent.
As superintendent, Crane wrote a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant to fund a local district preschool program, which is seen as essential to helping low-income families who live in the district.
“They understood that preschool is an excellent way to combat intergenerational poverty,” Crane said.
Trustees, meanwhile, revised the education board’s “completely antiquated” policies – some of which hadn’t been updated in 10 to 15 years, he said.
From kindergarten to the 12th grade, the district aligned its math and language arts with state and national standards. It also increased the middle school’s science curriculum from one to two years, implemented full-year core academic classes at Grand County High School and boosted concurrent enrollment at Utah State University-Moab from 15 to 38 students, he said.
Perhaps more than anything else, Crane said he values the personal connections he’s made in the district and the community over the last five years.
“Those friendships will last forever,” he said.
School district hopes to have replacement by July 1
I’m very proud of the work we’ve done here … I’d like to emphasize that it’s not one person. It’s people working together in collaborative teams and cooperative teams that can accomplish something like this.