The Sitka School Board named Wegner to the post after a two-and-a-half hour closed-door meeting Thursday afternoon (2-13-14).
Wegner, and fellow finalist Eddie Campbell, of Parsons, West Virginia, each were interviewed in public session earlier in the day.
Campbell is the superintendent of Tucker County Schools. He had spent a year in Kotzebue, Alaska in 2010 as a K-12 principal.
Following Thursday’s vote, school board president Lon Garrison said that Wegner was the right pick.
“I think we’ve made a choice that will work well for Sitka. It was a difficult choice. We had two excellent candidates. Obviously it took us quite a while to go through that process. They both brought very different qualities to their candidacy. But in the end, after we had gone through the public comment, and the board had kicked it around the table a considerable amount of time, we decided to go with Mary.”
The two candidates participated in a public forum on Wednesday evening, and shared their ideas on education. At least one of the students who participated in that meeting, Spencer Combs, was invited into the board’s executive session to give feedback on the candidates. Several building principals were invited in as well.
Alaska’s open meetings law allows elected bodies to work behind closed doors for a very limited — and specific set of reasons — including protecting the reputations of individuals who are the subject of discussion.
Garrison was not troubled by the board’s lack of public deliberation on the merits of the candidates.
“Our process is such that we discussed the pro’s and con’s of the candidates, then we come into regular session. And we made the vote in public.”
Having heard the board’s decision only moments before, she said she was just starting to breathe.
“I’m just beyond thrilled to be able to continue to do the work that we’ve started in the district. We’re doing good things for kids. We have amazing teachers and a very supportive community. And I’m just honored to be able to continue to implement these projects and do what’s best for students.”
One of Wegner’s first duties when she succeeds Steve Bradshaw at the end of this school year will be to replace herself. She says her new assistant superintendent will be unlike her.
“I’m looking for somebody that’s going to complete the skills that I don’t have. Everybody has things that they offer, and things that they don’t offer. And so I’m going to be looking for somebody that’s a good team player and a complement to my skills.”
Wegner agreed to a two-year contract. She’ll be paid $120,000 a year for 260 days of work. She’ll have 30 days paid vacation, 7 holidays, and a $1,000 annual allowance for car expenses.