The Roundup -

Daniel Farr Announces His Retirement & Reviews the Challenges & Accomplishments of His Time in Sidney

 

Superintendent, Daniel Farr

Superintendent of Sidney schools, Daniel Farr has announced his retirement, with his last official day being June 30, 2017. Farr began his career in Culbertson, MT after graduating from MSU Bozeman with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1982, and with his Master of Education in 1987.

Farr and his family moved to Sidney in 1998 to be closer to his wife's family, and he became the High School Principal and K-12 Curriculum Director.

"Being an educator was a natural fit. It seems like you follow in your parents' footsteps; case-in-point, two of my three daughters teach and the other is a nurse," Farr said, explaining that his parents farmed and ranched outside of Cody, WY until 1968 when his father went into education and the family moved to Billings.

In 2009, Farr became Superintendent of Schools, and was only in the position a year before the Bakken oil boom broke loose. Farr was then left to manage an incredible influx of new students, address the need for more space and more staff, while continuing to meet students' needs. As the school budget fluctuated, one challenge was to adequately provide services to students with additional academic needs through Title I and special education. At the height of the boom, Farr recalls that they had hired 45 additional individuals to work as service/support staff. But while the boom created challenges, it also created opportunities because as the number of students rose, so did school funding. Additionally, oil and gas revenue allowed $30 million to be put into school improvement projects without increasing local property taxes.

"The trustees had the foresight to put that oil and gas revenue into the facilities, and so while there are still smaller improvement projects, there won't be any major financial costs in that regard for the next 20 years," Farr commented. "The County Commissioners and other individuals stepped up by going to the legislature to keep oil and gas revenue in Eastern Montana. It takes an entire community to be successful."

As the boom has slowed, everything has seemed to reach a stabilizing point, including public schools. Farr noted that the biggest decrease in students has been this year with the loss of 52 students.

"Now that we've turned that corner, we'll reexamine and readjust our direction," he said. "We've accomplished a lot in the last few years including curriculum development, teacher evaluations, and updating job descriptions. We've put in place Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), an hour a week where teachers can reflect on test scores and student progress, an investment of time and dedication."

Farr plans on taking the first year of his retirement to look at how he and his wife will transition. After completing his Doctorate in 2004, he has spent time consulting, and may teach at a collegiate level.

"I am considering using my 33 years in education to teach young educators how to become effective in administration. I want them to understand what they are getting into. Administration is very rewarding, but it also comes with a sacrifice of time, dealing with conflict, and filling in communication gaps," he explained.

Farr plans to remain as a Director with the Eagle Foundation for the next year, and help them transition, while giving back as much as he can during that time. He also mentioned that he and his wife have many family and friendship ties in the community, but that ultimately it all comes down to family and being a part of their grandchildren's lives. The Farrs have a two-year-old grandson and are currently awaiting the arrival of their granddaughter, due in November.

"I think that the greatest accomplishment in my time here has been the ability to work with staff to maintain a quality of education. The number one goal is to educate students. I would also like to thank the Sidney community for being an integral part of the school system. Whenever there's been a need, the community has stepped up to the plate and we get things done," Farr credited. "I think that's what makes Sidney a great community to raise a family."

 

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