The school board made an effort to find a superintendent who could start in February. That’s because they had to get special permission from the State Department of Retirement and Benefits to hire interim superintendent Rich Carlson. Since Carlson is retired, he’s only allowed to work as a superintendent on a temporary basis because of the retirement benefits that he is receiving.
Carlson took over for former superintendent Ginger Jewell, who left one year into her three year contract.
There were a dozen applicants for the job by the initial deadline. Four of those have Alaska superintendent experience, which the board prefers. Of those four, two met the criteria the board laid out in the job description.
“With only two that met all of their qualifications, we felt that that wasn’t a deep enough pool,” said Timi Tullis with the Alaska Association of School Boards, who is conducting the search.
She said there were some strong candidates, but even the ones who met the qualifications are currently under contract, so they wouldn’t be able to start until after July 1. Tullis recommended the board extend the application deadline.
“We feel that is was a smaller pool because of the start date being earlier,” Tullis said. “And by extending it and having the start date now be on the normal school cycle, we feel they’ll have a much deeper pool.”
School Board President Anne Marie Palmieri agreed.
“Most of the applicants who meet our criteria are not available until after July 1, so it really doesn’t buy us anything to close the application period right now,” Palmieri said.
Tullis said the board should get more candidates if they extend the deadline. She said, in her experience, superintendents tend to make the decision about whether to look for a new job over the winter holiday.
The school board voted unanimously to extend the search to January 29.
The final decision on who to hire is up to the school board, but they plan to get input from other stakeholders. Representatives of the teachers, classified staff, administrative staff and parents will review applications. The finalists for the job would be invited to visit the district in person, and there would be an opportunity for community members to meet them.
The next board meeting is December 8. Palmieri says she hopes to hear from the Department of Retirement and Benefits about extending Carlson’s contract by then.