Ken Gibson, assistant principal at Bozeman High School, should be appointed the acting principal for one year to give the Bozeman School Board enough time to do a national search for a permanent principal, Superintendent Kirk Miller recommended Tuesday.

“It has become too late in the year, I think, to attract highly qualified people,” Miller said.

Only about a half-dozen people expressed interest in applying for the principal’s job since May 21, when the School Board chose current Principal Rob Watson as Bozeman’s next school superintendent. Watson will replace Miller, who is retiring on June 30.

It would be better to have a dozen or more applicants, Miller said. So he decided the best thing would be to appoint an interim principal for one year who has the qualifications, skills and staff support to be principal, but doesn’t aspire to fill the job permanently.

Gibson, assistant principal for the past five years, has assured the administration that he’s “happy where he is,” Miller said. He plans to recommend Gibson for the interim principal’s post at the June 11 School Board meeting.

With the school year ending next week, Miller said he wanted to make the announcement to the school community on Tuesday afternoon, so teachers and staff would understand there is “stability” and a plan for filling the job permanently.

Watson said he expects to start the national search for a permanent principal next January or February.

Teachers and staff members applauded when Miller announced he was naming Gibson as interim principal and that Sarah Hays, curriculum director, would fill the assistant principal’s job next year.

“It’s neat I was asked,” Gibson said. “I’m honored. I’ll work hard and do my best.”

Gibson stressed that he plans to continue teamwork at the school. He even asked that a photographer shoot his picture with Hays and Mike Ruyle, the assistant principal in charge of the Bridger Alternative Program and school finances.

“That’s what we are. We’re a team,” Gibson said.

Gibson, 49, graduated from Bozeman High in 1981. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Montana State University and then a second bachelor’s degree in education from MSU in 1989. He later earned a master’s degree in educational leadership at MSU.

For nine years, he taught social studies and history and served as a counselor in Harrison. He came to Bozeman High in 1999 as a social studies teacher, teaching government and world history. As assistant principal, Gibson has been responsible for instruction, curriculum, technology and staff evaluation, Miller said.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.