John O’Brien has accepted the offer to become interim superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. His predecessor, Sean Dusek, announced his retirement in January.
The board of education conducted a standard search for candidates to take over the position. Two local candidates for the job, Dr. Christine Ermold, who is the district’s director of human resources and John Pothast, director of elementary and secondary education, both interviewed for the the superintendent position on April 4th. After more than five hours of deliberation, the board announced it would offer the job to O’Brien on an interim basis.
His career in education began in Maine 26 years ago, first as a special education teacher before moving into administration. O’Brien’s first job with the district was at Nikiski Middle-High School, where he started working in 2005. He moved to district administration in 2011 and, since 2015, has worked as superintendent of instruction.
In a statement Friday, O’Brien said “The Board of Education asked me to step up to help our school district through this challenging transition period in our state.”
Part of that transition could include consolidating or even closing schools across the district. Chapman school in Anchor Point is being looked at. As is Moose Pass school. Earlier this month, O’Brien facilitated a meeting about potentially consolidating Soldotna Prep school and SoHi. He was asked what parents can do about the state of education funding.
“It happens every November. It’s called elections. I hate to be crass, (but) looking back to last November, in my opinion, in terms of representatives who are going to stand up for education, borough assembly members that are going to stand up for education, a governor that’s going to stand up for education, we are reaping the results of last November’s election. So, in the long term, do your homework (on candidates) and what their stands are on supporting education or not supporting education.”
O’Brien will begin his new role on July 1st and the interim term will be over at the end of the fiscal year, June 30th, 2020.