The Haines Borough School District needs a new superintendent. The district’s previous two permanent superintendents lasted only a year. Now, the board is looking closely at how it wants to go about finding someone else to take on the job.
In July, the school board ended superintendent Tony Habra’s contract because it wasn’t satisfied with his work performance.
The board hired Rich Carlson as interim superintendent. It’s his second stint in that position. Now, the group is starting to look for someone to fill the permanent position. But first, it’s trying to figure out how it wants to conduct the search.
“I don’t think we should do it ourselves. Like, alone. I think we need some level of help outside of this,” said board member Sara Chapell.
The Alaska Association of School Boards led the superintendent search which resulted in Habra’s hire. That cost the district around $8,000. Sarah Swinton said the board shouldn’t take that route again.
“I don’t know if independently is really the answer,” said Swinton. “I don’t know – AASB is not the answer. So maybe a happy medium but I don’t want to spend the $10,000 again. And I think they did a good job but I don’t really know if they –I don’t know.”
Board President Anne Marie Palmieri said going through the hiring process alone has been done, but it’s challenging.
“When we did the process ourselves, it got to the point, we had all these applications and all of a sudden we’re like ‘who’s making the phone calls to the reference checks?’” said Palmieri.
“So maybe we have an à la carte help,” said Chapell. She said there are things the board can take away from the last round of hiring.
“I would just wonder how much we need to reinvent the wheel from the last process,” said Chapell. “I think a lot of our objectives and criteria are going to be the same. And our salary range can’t change that much.”
The Haines School may have some competition for candidates looking to work in the state. Interim Superintendent Carlson estimated at least eight Alaska districts will be looking for new superintendents this year.
He advised the board to prioritize Alaska experience in their decision.
“I think having experience in a superintendency is an important criteria,” said Carlson. “But I think having administrative experience in Alaska is equally important.”
Still, when considering experience, Carlson said bringing on someone who’s worked as an administrator but not a superintendent could be difficult.
“A non-superintendent I think can be done,” said Carlson. “You folks have some pretty hefty expectations, however. And to learn the job as a superintendent is, I think, challenging.”
The board is still deciding exactly how it wants to conduct the search. That’s something the group plans to discuss further at their next regular meeting on October 3.