Elected officials for local schools have selected a new superintendent — for now.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education unanimously voted to offer the position as interim superintendent to Assistant Superintendent Sean Dusek at its Monday meeting in Homer.
The approval allows for board president Joe Arness to offer the job to Dusek and negotiate the terms of the position. The action item was not scheduled prior to the setting of the agenda.
“I’m honored that they would consider me for that spot, and I’m really looking forward to meeting with President Arness and going over the particulars,” Dusek said.
Dusek’s in-depth knowledge and involvement with the district as well as his certifications made him a natural choice as interim superintendent beginning Dec. 1, Arness said.
The board decided to pursue hiring an interim superintendent, Arness said, because it alleviates the pressure to hire someone long-term in the middle of the school year, which is not the optimum time to hire a leader for the district.
“We are extremely fortunate that we have him, presuming that we can get him in place, which is not totally necessarily decided at this moment,” Arness said. “… Having that option, it really takes the pressure off and allows us the time to make a good, solid decision as to what we want to do on a permanent basis.”
Arness said ideally, Dusek’s decision will be finalized and ready for board approval at its Oct. 20 meeting.
“The superintendent position, regardless of the circumstances, is a challenging position, but it’s also very rewarding,” Dusek said.
Dusek has been assistant superintendent at the district since 2009. He heads the instruction department, which oversees and manages educational programs and services.
He has worked in the district for more than 20 years. From 2005-2009, he was the director of secondary education. He was principal at Soldotna High School from 2002-2005. From 1997-2000, he was a teacher and activities director at the former Soldotna Middle School.
Dusek was a teacher and coach at the former Skyview High School from 1993-1997. From 1992-1993, he was a long-term substitute at Skyview, where, in the fall of 1991, he did his student teaching.
“I’ve been involved with a lot of the initiatives that we’ve put in place, so I do have that historical perspective,” Dusek said. “But I’m one of those people that I’m a life-long learner.”
During Dusek’s time as assistant superintendent, Arness said one notable highlight is his revisions to the teacher evaluation system. The shift to a results oriented system as opposed to a principal observation system is now state-mandated, Arness said.
“That’s a huge change,” Arness said. “It’s a difficult thing because there are lots and lots of teachers, and they’re very nervous about it … so Sean has been right in the middle of that the whole way. And I think, by all accounts, the progress we’re making as a district on that project leads the state.”
The other option for an interim position would be finding someone with the appropriate certifications, like a retired superintendent, Arness said. However, he said that possibility wasn’t discussed in-depth given the chance to offer the job to Dusek.
According to a district press release, the board will determine the next steps and timeline for hiring a long-term superintendent starting in the 2015-2016 school year by January 2015.
Board member Tim Navarre said he’s glad the district has Dusek as an option to step in as interim superintendent.
“I look forward to working with him as a board member as I have in the past but in his new position as he moves into it,” Navarre said.
The appointment follows Superintendent Steve Atwater’s resignation at the board’s Aug. 4 meeting. The resignation takes effect on Dec. 1.
Atwater’s resignation came at the opportunity to accept a position as the University of Alaska Associate Vice President for K-12 Outreach.
“Trying to follow Dr. Atwater would be a tough act for anybody … so we’ll see how the conversation goes with President Arness,” Dusek said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.