James Shank answers questions during a meet and greet with the prospective superintendent at Taylorview Middle School on Monday, March 29, 2021.

James Shank has been selected to become the next superintendent of Idaho Falls School District 91, potentially capping a dramatic two weeks of the search process.

The Idaho Falls school board voted to offer Shank the superintendent job at the end of a special board meeting held Thursday morning. The follow-up interview with Shank and the executive session discussion about hiring him lasted 2 1/2 hours.

“There is no question in my mind that his focus is the education of students and he gave some clear examples of how that is his focus,” trustee Paul Haacke said before voting for the nomination Thursday.

Longtime Idaho Falls superintendent George Boland announced in December his intent to retire at the end of the school year. Shank was one of two finalists for the superintendent position named in mid-March and he attended a community meet-and-greet at Taylorview Middle School on March 29.

Trustees initially offered to superintendent job to Eric Pingrey, a superintendent from Minnesota. Pingrey withdrew from accepting the position last Friday to accept the superintendent job in McCall-Donnelly School District.

Shank, who holds a doctorate of education from Idaho State University, began his education career as a special education teacher. He worked for District 91 for 13 years as a principal and two more years as the Director of Federal Programs.

During the public Q&A session in March, Shank said he left Idaho Falls in 2010 because he wanted to keep gaining administrative experience.

“It was clear then that Boland was going to be in Idaho Falls for a long time,” Shank said. “I left to start getting superintendent experience and skills so we could meet here today.”

Shank served as the superintendent for the Juab School District in Utah and the Coupeville School District in Washington before taking the job with Cassia County School District 151 in Burley in 2017.

If Shank accepts the job offer, the board of trustees and the Idaho School Boards Association will begin negotiating a contract with him. Idaho Falls advertised a salary in the range of $140,000 to $160,000 during the search process. It would be an increase from the $132,500 Shank made last year in Cassia County.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.