Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Sean Dusek announced his retirement in January. Now, three finalists have been selected to be the next head administrator for the school district.
The final list includes two local names and one candidate from Outside. Dr. Christine Ermold, who currently works as director of human resources and professional development for the district, and John Pothast, the district’s director of elementary and secondary education. They’re joined by Dr. Ken Haptonstall, who currently serves as director of alternative licensure for the Colorado River Board of Cooperative Education Services. Haptonstall had been a superintendent for Mesa County Valley School District 51, but was let go after an investigation looking into sharp administration salary increases in 2018.
Those three were narrowed down from an initial field of eight candidates. Board of Education President Penny Vadla says, whoever eventually gets the job, that person will need to bring a comprehensive approach to delivering a student’s education.
“I think we want someone who’s student-centric, who their whole goal is to be there for the students to help them prepare for where they go at the next level," Vadla said. "Some of the other things that are really important, how well do they work with other people? What type of a leader are they? How do they collaborate? How do they set standards? How do they work their way into the district so that, when they are chosen, when they’re looked at and vetted, we know that we’ve chosen the best candidate that can put forward our strategic plan.”
She says the winning candidate will also recognize how to best take care of students in a district as diverse as the Kenai’s.
“There’s so much that comes into place when you’re educating students. It’s not one thing is more important than another. How do you bring all those components together to provide a collective and a collaborative and well-rounded education for kids? Dealing with kids who want to do career and technical, kids who want to go to college, kids who have special needs, students who come from all walks of life ... how do you prepare that child to be the best that they can be?”
Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones did not take part in the selection process but he says his new boss, whoever it is, is going to need to be ready for the politics that are involved with trying to fund a school district.
“I think with the political atmosphere at the state level and the political atmosphere at the borough level, whoever comes into the role is going to have to get up to speed really quick on what’s happening in Juneau and the potential reductions in revenue that could come from there and what might happen with that. And then also the potential reduction of revenues at the borough level and what could happen there. There will be a lot of political catch-up real quick.”
Interview invitations will be made to the finalists and after a date is set. All will sit before the board for a round of public interviews.