Haines Superintendent Tony Habra. (Emily Files)

Haines Superintendent Tony Habra. (Emily Files)

Haines’ new superintendent, Tony Habra, attended his first school board meeting earlier this month. At the meeting, Habra petitioned the board to approve an approximately $6,000 superintendent mentorship program. Habra said as a first-year Alaska superintendent, the program would help him strengthen his ‘network’ in the state.

“I have had mentors in the past, or executive coaches in the past,” Habra said. “It’s a very valuable service, in terms of having somebody to bounce ideas off of and ask me questions about what I’ve thought.”

The $6,000 mentorship program is sponsored by the Alaska Superintendents Association and includes weekly phone calls and in-person meetings with a seasoned superintendent in the state.

But some of the school board members balked at the expense.

“I can see where this would be valuable to you, Tony, but I also see that this would be a huge expense to the district,” said Sarah Swinton. “I’m thinking that we’re already putting an extra amount out there, going over what we paid our last superintendents. I’m a little nervous about spending this year.”

Habra’s salary is $113,000. His contract also included an extended transition period for him to learn from interim superintendent Rich Carlson, and travel to state education conferences.

Board member Sara Chapell pointed out that the board has talked about how important it is to support the new superintendent.

“I think it’s a good idea to front-load this kind of expense in the superintendent’s first year to make sure we give him the resources he needs,” Chapell said.

But board members wondered if there was a way to have some sort of mentorship without such a large expense. The board tabled the discussion to revisit at a later date. The next meeting is set for Sept. 3.