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In full COVID garb, a masked Tom Crane, the Enterprise School District’s new interim superintendent, sits at his desk at the high school Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. He also is the interim principal for the elementary school.

ENTERPRISE — Enterprise schools have a new interim superintendent, as the school board hired former Enterprise teacher and coach Thomas Crane at its board meeting Monday, Oct. 11, and he started work the next day, according to a press release.

Crane also will serve as principal of the elementary school, the release stated.

“The Enterprise School Board is pleased to have Mr. Crane as our new interim superintendent in this very important transitional year,” board Chairwoman Mandy Decker said in the release.

The release also stated that from 2007-16, Crane served as the secondary school principal in the Colton School District south of Portland. Prior to arriving in Colton, he was the superintendent in the Pine Eagle School District in Halfway for five years.

He is no stranger to the Enterprise School District, as he was an elementary school teacher and junior high coach here from 1982-95.

Decker said Wednesday, Oct. 13, that the educator seems to be settling in here after retiring from Colton.

“He is building a house here, he has lived here and knows a lot about the community,” she said. “His references said he was the first one to work, the last one to leave, he was really fair and he brings a lot of experience.”

Crane earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande. He received his administrative certificate/license from the University of Oregon. He also attended Lewis & Clark College and Portland State University. In addition to his long educational career, he served his country in the U.S. Army in 1973-76 and the Oregon Army National Guard from 1981-2002 earning the rank of command sergeant major.

Decker said the board still has to find a permanent superintendent. She said that during its search for an interim superintendent, the board didn’t receive nearly as many applications as it had hoped for. Only nine applications were submitted, she said, adding that most people who are currently serving as superintendents are unlikely to leave their posts in the middle of a school year.

It’s just too late in the game to do a search for a permanent (superintendent), especially during a pandemic,” she said. “It’s too soon to even think what next year looks like.”

Decker said the board will likely begin its search for a permanent superintendent in January. Meanwhile, Crane’s contract extends through June.

Crane said he's been quite busy settling in to his new job, but he keeps running into people he knew from his teaching days here.

“I’m really excited about being here the past two days," he said Thursday. "I was here 40 years ago and I left 26 years ago. It’s great to be back to Wallowa County. It’s great to be back to Enterprise. ... The opportunity to see all these people again and their kids and their grandkids, it’s just been a blur. I’ll talk to people and walk away and think of 29 things about that person."

Crane replaces Erika Pinkerton, who transitioned to La Grande after five years in Enterprise. Since Pinkerton’s departure, Karen Patton has served as acting superintendent and Landon Braden has served as acting elementary principal.

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