John O’Brien, superintendent for the Kenai Peninsula School District, gives a presentation to the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska on Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

John O’Brien, superintendent for the Kenai Peninsula School District, gives a presentation to the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska on Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

School superintendent to retire next year

The school board has already begun the superintendent recruitment process.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent John O’Brien is planning on retiring at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, and the school board is beginning work on filling his seat.

O’Brien has been serving as the head of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District for about a year, after he took over for Sean Dusek, who retired in 2019 after about five years as the district’s superintendent.

At the end of March, O’Brien announced he would be taking a leave of absence from his superintendent position to recover from kidney cancer surgery and treatment. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer days before spring break, he said in a letter to the community posted on the school district’s communications blog.

O’Brien is back in state and working from home, Pegge Erkeneff, communications director for the district, said in a Tuesday email to the Clarion. She said he is currently in quarantine after returning to Alaska from out of state. Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones served as acting superintendent in his absence.

Erkeneff said it was always O’Brien’s plan to retire at the end of 2020-2021 school year, but O’Brien’s announcement gives the school board time to find a new superintendent.

O’Brien plans on retiring in June 2021, according to the agenda for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education’s Wednesday meeting. The board has already begun the superintendent recruitment process and plans to assign members of the school board to a search committee at Wednesday’s meeting.

The committee will develop recommendations for the board to consider regarding recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes, the agenda item said.

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