The Haines Borough has taken out more than $18 million in bonds to pay for a new school and renovations. (Emily Files)

The Haines School. (Emily Files)

This weekend, the Haines School Board hosted a marathon session of superintendent interviews that were open to the public.

After six hours, two rounds of interviews, nine skype calls, and two executive sessions, Haines is one step closer to having a new district administrator.

The old adage says it takes a village to raise a child — here, that starts with leaning on the village to hire a superintendent.

Almost twenty people crowded into a Haines classroom beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, to listen, watch, and take notes during six hours of interviews for superintendent candidates. At the end of the day?

“We have two people we have invited back,” says Rich Carlson. He’s been filling in as superintendent since Tony Habra resigned last year amid concerns about his job performance.

“Roy Getchell, who is presently in Avon, Colorado in an administrative position, and then James Patrick Manning, who is the Assistant Superintendent in the Lake and Pen School District in King Salmon, have been invited back,” Carlson says.

Before Saturday, the board whittled down 25 applicants to six, with help from a search committee, local consultant Lenise Fontenot, and Patti Carlson, a former Human Resources director for the Juneau school district. The board interviewed all six of those candidates Saturday morning.

The interviews were open to the public: anyone could come sit in on the Skype session and form their own opinions. Ann Marie Palmieri, the school board president, conducted the interviews.

“And I’m here with a room full of people, other school board members, administrators, community members, staff, and friends,” Palmieri told one candidate.

Maximum transparency was a very intentional part of hiring a superintendent this time around, Carlson says.

When asked if process changes had resulted in candidates that might be more successful than past hires, board member Sara Chappell says the choice to be open was really about the community.

“I don’t know that a more open process has helped us recruit better candidates, but I do know that having an open and transparent a process as possible is giving us the kind of feedback we need to make a good decision for Haines.”

After collecting comment cards from everyone in the room, the board went into executive session around lunchtime, returning with three people they wanted to interview again in the afternoon.

Getchell and Manning were on that list. So was Jay Thomas, the Mountain Village Principal. During his second interview, he mentioned that he probably wouldn’t be interested in a superintendent job if his wife couldn’t work as a teacher in the same district. That was a surprise, Chapell says.

“But I appreciate that all the candidates are honest with us, letting us know what they need. We can’t connect those things — that’s really not something we can consider in the hiring process, and so that’s why we needed to move forward.”

If all goes according to plan, the two men will come to Haines for in-person interviews in two weeks.

“There’s probably going to be a chance for the community to get to know the candidates the evening of Tuesday the 20th,” Chapell says. “I’d really appreciate and encourage folks to come out and get to know these candidates and let us know what you think.”

After that, Carlson says if the board wants to offer the job to Getchell or Manning, they’ll probably do it right away. But if neither of them seem right, the board will keep looking.

“We’re really, really committed to finding the right superintendent for Haines,” Chapell says. “We’re not settling. We’re really going to make sure that we find that person. I am very optimistic that we are on that path.”

KHNS will air profiles of the two finalists, based on their interviews, later this week.


Correction: This story originally stated that Patti Carlson will visit each candidates community as a next step. At the time this story was reported, that had not been decided.