The Sitka School Board has narrowed its search for a new superintendent down to three.
The finalists are: Eddie Campbell, who currently works as a superintendent in Parsons, West Virginia; Joseph Krause, currently a teacher in Larson Bay in the Kodiak School District; and Mary Wegner, the current assistant superintendent of the Sitka School District.
The finalists were selected from a pool of ten applicants. Board president Lon Garrison says that prior experience in Alaska was “pretty important” in making the final cut. He emphasized the uniqueness of Alaska, the challenges of working in a rural community, and the importance of multi-cultural experience.
Eddie Campbell, the only finalist not currently working in Alaska, met these criteria in previous jobs. He has been a principal in Kotzebue, and has taught in China. Campbell holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Virginia.
Joseph Krause is now teaching in Kodiak, but he’s been an administrator. He is the former superintendent and principal of the Tekonsha Schools in Tekonsha, Michigan. He was also a principal in Alaska in the Nenana School District. He holds a Masters in Education from the Saginaw Valley State University.
Sitka’s assistant superintendent Mary Wegner is the former supervisor for Educational Technology in the Anchorage School District. She’s also been a teacher in the Sitka, Juneau, and Chatham school districts. Wegner expects to receive a doctoral degree this coming May.
The board met in a public work session (Thu 1-23-14) with a committee of sixteen community members to review applications. School board president Lon Garrison said he and other board members really benefited from the input.
Garrison also noted the relatively low number of applicants for the job. There were a few more than the ten the committee ultimately reviewed, he says, but they withdrew their names when they were informed that their applications would be made public.
The applications the committee reviewed on Thursday were submitted by:
Larsen Bay, AK
Spanish Fork, UT
Sugar Land, TX
The board initially planned on keeping the applicant list confidential, but reversed course after receiving requests from local media for full disclosure of the applicant pool. Daily Sitka Sentinel editor Thad Poulson sent the board a letter on January 23 citing a 1982 Alaska Supreme Court ruling which clearly outlines the legal basis for the request. The justices defined the public process used by Alaskan communities to hire “high public officials” like city managers, police chiefs, and by extension, school superintendents.
Nevertheless, Garrison says that the pool of qualified applicants for superintendencies in Alaska has been shrinking. He says there is a “changing of the guard” in state education, several top administrative positions open, and the number of qualified applicants to fill them is “growing smaller all the time.”
The finalists will all be in Sitka for tours on February 12 and 13. A public “candidate forum” will be held at Sitka High School at 5 PM on the evening of the 12th. The school board will interview each candidate individually in public on February 13. The successful candidate is expected to start before July 1.