Barker Bolts School

By on July 20, 2016

COO of TCSD No. 1 will step away at the end of the year.

BradBarker.420x470JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Brad Barker confirmed today that he intends to step away from his post as chief operating officer for Teton County School District No. 1. Barker took the job in November 2014 when school board trustees created the position as part of a district office transformation late in 2014.

The timing of Barker’s departure could indicate a frustration level with the recent sewer connection approval for the new elementary school planned for Hog Island. The process bogged down frequently as councilman Jim Stanford, former legislator Pete Jorgensen, and others took the opportunity question the location of Munger Mountain elementary as being contrary to the 2012 comp plan and a potential growth enabler for an area currently zoned primarily rural.

Barker denied his decision to leave has anything to do with occasional clashes at council meetings or any friction between he and the board of trustees.

“I had hoped to wait to make an announcement later but word has gotten out. It’s not according to plan, but I had to move a little bit earlier,” Barker admitted. “I was presented with a unique opportunity for me and my family that I don’t know would ever come around again. It’s a chance to make a lifestyle change where I’m not tied to a particular schedule or routine, and have a lot more control over my time with my family, which is important to me after multiple deployments with the Army.

Barker said his future gig is with a buy-side mergers and acquisitions firm where he will be named a director. Barker will remain as COO through the calendar year and expects to assist trustees in the hiring if his replacement.

Barker, a retired Army colonel, didn’t know exactly what to expect from the COO position, nor did district officials, who were feeling their way through a newly created position.

“Probably the fact that the role wasn’t well defined is what interested me to begin with. It presented a variety of challenges and I feel like I’ve met those. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress and were able to get the ball moving down the field,” Barker said.

Regarding the opposition he faced over the site location for Munger Mountain, Barker said, “I would say it’s par for the course. We do have a very demanding and highly educated population in the county; that goes without saying. In some aspects that’s great and it holds people to the highest standards. But in other aspects the tone of the conversation sometimes gets, well, it’s unfortunate that we can’t have a more civil discussion.”

Board chair Patricia Russell was disheartened by the news.

“The community is losing a great man. As I said when we hired him, being able to bring in such a high quality person was nothing short of a miracle. Losing him is a huge loss,” Russell said. “It’s my opinion that he was frustrated and frankly not treated with the respect he deserves that led to his ultimate decision to leave. While people sometimes like to characterize the constant questioning of his decisions as a means of helping him understand the community, I believe that he wasn’t trusted and that made it impossible for him to do his job to the high standard he expects of himself. I am deeply saddened that he was eventually forced to make this choice.”

Barker had nothing but praise for staff, administration, and trustees. He expects to remain in the Jackson Hole area for the present. He says he would like to buy some ranch land in Wyoming and run a small cow-calf cattle operation on the side some day.

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