Changes in the Leadership of the Helena School District and Independent Record?

There appear to be some moves afoot at both the Helena School District and Independent Record, with potential changes in leadership coming for both organizations.

Multiple sources have told me that the Independent Record’s current editor, Greg Lemon, will be leaving the paper within the next couple of weeks. Lemon was named the editor of the paper back in July of 2013. Lemon replaced Holly Michels, who was named the editor in September of 2012. Michels replaced Butch Larcombe, who was named the editor of the paper in October of 2011. Butch Larcombe replaced the regional editor structure that had Gerry O’Brien editing the Standard and Independent Record. O’Brien replaced John Doran, who made the mistake of allowing the Independent Record to critically cover St. Peter’s Hospital before moving to a position at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana.

This turnover in the editor’s position certainly hasn’t helped the paper, and probably has something to do with the constant, churning staff reductions at Lee Enterprises. One has to assume that a leading candidate for the next editor must be the paper’s wunderkind digital slideshow expert who has turned the paper’s opinion pages into a local laughingstock.

Potential changes at the Helena School District are more speculative at this point, but it is certain that the district’s superintendent is at least looking for a new job. Yesterday, half a dozen people mentioned that the superintendent was looking for a new job—and promoting it online. Using the Twitter account he has used for District updates, but not updated for almost two years, Dr. Kent Kultgen posted (and then subsequently deleted) a link to a story in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin that listed him as one of seven semifinalists for a job as the superintendent in the Walla Walla District. By mid-afternoon yesterday, the district was buzzing with the news, which comes in the midst of a renewed effort to develop a bond that can gain public support for improved schools.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Those in the Queen City have made it clear they don’t want to bond for jails or schools. What’s the new strategy to convince them? Any different from the old?

    Is there even a strategy? (Hope doesn’t count)

    • I don’t think that’s right at all. The people in Helena and Lewis/Clark county made it clear that they didn’t want either of those bonds to pass. I suspect a different bond will pass for the schools eventually, but it’s going to be a real challenge, given the complexity of the problems here.

      As for the jail, I’m not sure it can–or should–pass. We need fewer people in cells, not more jails to hold them.

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