Sitka school superintendent Steve Bradshaw. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Sitka school superintendent Steve Bradshaw. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

The Sitka School Board bid fond farewells to 24 three staff members Monday night (5-5-14) — including superintendent Steve Bradshaw, who has landed a new job in Montana.

The board met for its final regular meeting during the school year. A reception for retirees was held just prior to the meeting.

Eight teachers are retiring from the district, eight classified staff members are leaving or retiring, and seven certified teachers or administrators are moving on to new jobs.

One person who is both retiring and taking a new job is superintendent Steve Bradshaw.

Board president Lon Garrison offered a personal tribute.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity to sit at this board table with someone of your stature and professional ability. I remember the very first day I came on this board, and the very first meeting was voting whether we were going to go 3A or 4A (in sports classification). And that was a tough meeting. And it wasn’t too very long after that I realized — call me crazy — I do enjoy doing this work. I think it’s some of the best work we can do. And I think you’re one of think you’re one of the finest educators I’ve ever met.”

Bradshaw is retiring in Alaska, but moving to Montana to close out his career in the state where he started over 30 years ago. He’s accepted the job of superintendent of Columbia Falls Schools, a district of about 2,000 students near Kalispell.

KCAW News is preparing a follow-up story on Baranof Elementary School principal Kathi Yanamura’s hire as an elementary school principal in Bradshaw’s new district.

Bradshaw has been superintendent in Sitka for 13 years. For three years prior to that he was principal of the high school.

His wife Sandy is retiring from her elementary teaching job at Keet Gooshi Heen and NOT taking a new job. Steve Bradshaw says, “We flipped a coin and I lost.”

On a more serious note, Bradshaw said that staff longevity is important to stability in the schools. And he reminded the board that his career in Sitka could have been much shorter.

“I thank you because there were times when there were some of the things that happened, it would have been very easy to fire a superintendent. In all seriousness. I look at some of the things and there were not quick, easy answers to some of the problems. But if you get enough good people sitting around the table, most of the time you can get those problems solved. And that’s what it takes. And you’ve got the right people.”

Bradshaw applauded the hire of incoming superintendent Mary Wegner, the promotion of Blatchley assistant principal Robyn Taylor to assistant superintendent, and the re-hiring of Karen Macklin as principal of the high school.

Referring to the adoption of the Common Core and new state education standards, Bradshaw said it was going to be “easy for members of the community to become negative.”

He told the board that consistency in staff and board would allow the district to function through a “hectic three or four years.”

And Bradshaw can’t really overstate his own longevity. While he’s held the top job in Sitka, he told the board that Juneau has had four superintendents, Kodiak three, Mt. Edgecumbe High School 4, and Ketchikan 2. The City of Sitka has gone through 4 administrators in Bradshaw’s tenure. And he’s seen three Commissioners of Education.