Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Interim superintendent selected


July 20, 2017

The Haines Borough school board selected Rich Carlson Friday as the district’s interim superintendent.

Carlson, a retired educator who served as Haines School interim superintendent two years ago, will work here again for one year. The hire comes after former superintendent Tony Habra resigned this month.

The board also considered two other candidates, Kevin Shipley and Susan McCauley. Both were in search of long term work in addition to the interim position.

McCauley was interim commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development in 2016.

Board members said McCauley’s experience and expertise made her a strong candidate, but with a family in Palmer McCauley could only be in Haines halftime. She said in an interview with board members she would communicate via video or teleconference when she was out of town.

The board said McCauley managed a budget of over $3 million at a charter school and oversaw 14 principals in another position.

Shipley was superintendent of the Kake City School District for four years. Board member Lisa Schwartz spoke highly of Shipley’s experiences with grant writing and his perspective with a degree in business.

“Kevin has the visionary and leadership pieces I think we’re looking for,” Schwartz said.

Board members agreed that Carlson was the most fiscally responsible choice. The board voted to hire him with the same contract and salary he was offered for the 2015-2016 school year, about $110,000 salary.

McCauley asked for $114,000, the same as former superintendent Tony Habra would have been paid for his second year on the job. Shipley asked to be compensated an amount between $118,000 and $125,000.

Board member Jeanne Kitayama voted against hiring Carlson, in favor of McCauley. She said she thought the benefits of hiring McCauley would outweigh the negatives.

“I just feel like in Haines we have never had a candidate of her caliber available,” said Kitayama. “This is an opportunity, an opportunity for our district.”

Board member Sara Chapell said she wished the board could be “brave” and hire McCauley, but was concerned about the district’s tightening budget.

The board discussed if it would be advantageous to hire McCauley or Shipley as a “test run,” and hire the person long-term if the year went well.

“We can’t base the decision on hope for the future,” Martin said.

Sarah Swinton, Inez Gross and Brain Clay were in favor of Carlson, saying it was important to have someone in Haines fulltime.

Board president Anne Marie Palmieri said Carlson was already familiar with the district and could start making improvements right away. “He could really hit the ground running,” she said. “He wouldn’t have to get to know us.”

Principal Rene Martin said she has taken education workshops under McCauley, but said Carlson would be the district’s “safety net.”

Administrative assistant Judy Erekson suggested inviting McCauley to host workshops for the board and help with strategic planning throughout the year, hoping that she might get to know the district before the process of hiring a permanent superintendent begins in January.

Carolson retired after 12 years as superintendent in Klawock. He is set to arrive in Haines in early August.


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