Bayfield School District Superintendent Kevin Aten is staying with the district even after being selected as a top contender for a superintendent position in Montana.
Aten’s application to join the Helena School District in Helena, Montana, sparked questions about his future in Bayfield. But during a school board meeting Feb. 23, he reaffirmed his commitment to being in the Bayfield district and the school board renewed his three-year contract.
“I am 100% ... committed to being in (this district). This was a one-time opportunity for me to reunite my family in a different location,” Aten said during the meeting. “It was an interesting experience, but I will tell you, above and beyond, it makes us appreciate what you have.”
Aten became a semifinalist for the Helena superintendent position in early February and was eventually named as one of the top two finalists. The school district ultimately chose to offer the position to Rex Weltz, a local candidate.
Aten said news of his selection as a semifinalist reached media outlets, like KTVH in Helena, before it reached him. Traditionally, the recruiting firm notifies the candidates first.
“I talked to the search firm. That was not well handled,” Aten said in the meeting. “But I am not responsible for that.”
He was interested in the position, in part, because it represented an opportunity for him and his wife to live in the same city. Aten’s wife, a teacher with 32 years of experience, works in Loveland and has not been able to find an opening in La Plata County.
“She’s very seriously considering just retiring,” Aten said.
The Bayfield Board of Education extended Aten’s three-year rolling contract as superintendent to 2024.
Mike Foutz, school board president, said during the meeting that Aten’s candidacy in Helena came up “pretty suddenly,” but his application was within the bounds of his contract with the Bayfield School District.
“Everybody’s got the right to do what they feel is best for their career and best for their family,” Foutz said.
Aten was born and raised in Durango. He has worked in education for more than 30 years and joined the Bayfield School District in 2018.
Aten last applied to the Helena School District in 2017. He does not plan to continue applying for positions outside of Bayfield.
“I’m not pursuing any other positions,” Aten said in an interview with The Durango Herald. “I feel really strongly that this is the right place for me. I’m just honored to be here.”