A new superintendent has taken the reins at the tiny Butte Falls School District in northeast Jackson County.

A new superintendent has taken the reins at the tiny Butte Falls School District in northeast Jackson County.

David Courtney, who has experience leading small school districts in Oregon, replaced Superintendent Tim Sweeney on July 1 when Sweeney took the superintendency at Coquille schools on the Oregon Coast.

"I wanted to be in a small school district and be around the kids," said Courtney, 57. "Superintendents in large districts usually work in a separate building and don't see the kids much. That's why I got into education, to spend time with kids."

Butte Falls' system has about 200 pupils in grades K-12.

A six-member selection committee, made up of School Board members, administrators and teachers, recommended Courtney out of 30 applicants, said School Board Member Shone Ellis. He was hired in June.

"For me, his was the first application I read," Ellis said. "I remember writing 'Wow' on his application. He had a lot of experience with small districts and some of the things we're facing with budget cuts."

Courtney has about 25 years' experience in education.

He was superintendent of Harney County School District of about 1,000 students for eight years until the end of the 2008-2009 school year and was superintendent of a remote school district of 200 students in Crane in southeast Oregon for seven years.

Before that, he was a math and science teacher in Harrisburg, Ore., for nine years.

In 2009-2010, he had a brief stint as principal of a public online charter school, Marcola All-Prep Academy in Eugene, which closed because of financial problems.

The school was one of 11 AllPrep schools founded by Tim King, a former high school physics teacher in Clackamas. Courtney said he was not responsible for the school's finances.

He has a doctorate in education from George Fox University, a master's degree in education from the University of Oregon and a bachelor's degree in science education from Oregon State University.

Courtney said he and his wife, Nancy, wanted to live in Southern Oregon to be closer to a daughter who lives in Grants Pass and a son who lives in Eugene.

Ellis, who was on the selection committee that recommended Sweeney three years ago, said there were more applicants for the position this time.

"I think there were a lot more, and better quality," she said. "I'm sure the economy played into it."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.