The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District took an important step forward this week in naming an interim superintendent and outlining a plan to fill the position on a permanent basis.
Current Superintendent Steve Atwater tendered his resignation to the school board in early August, just as the district was ramping up for the current school year. While Atwater’s resignation is effective Dec. 1, giving the board another few months to find his replacement, it has been noted that the middle of the school year is not the best time to find the ideal candidate.
For any organization — large or small, public or private — certainty and confidence in leadership moving forward is critical for success. Planning for the unknown is both difficult and scary, and a void in a leadership position can be detrimental, especially for an organization as expansive as the school district.
The school board made what we think are two good decisions this week.
First, rather than try to rush to find a new superintendent at a time when the top candidates aren’t necessarily looking, the board opted to name an interim superintendent to finish out the school year, giving the board time to conduct a thorough candidate search. There’s no need to panic; the school district is in good shape. While there’s always issues that need to be addressed, the district is not facing a crisis. The district has a good handle on its finances, schools are performing well, and there is a team of experienced administrators overseeing district operations. The board has breathing room to find the right person for the job.
Second is the selection of Sean Dusek to handle the duties of interim superintendent. In Dusek, the district has a person who has worked in the district in many different roles, from classroom teacher and coach to assistant superintendent. Dusek has a good sense of where the district has been, and where it’s going. He’ll be called on to oversee the school budget process, with much of the heavy lifting to be done just as he will be settling in to his new role.
The next step is for Dusek and the school board to come to terms on an agreement, which is one thing we hope can be accomplished in a timely manner.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is a complex, diverse organization. The school board’s actions offer reassurance of steady leadership as we dive into another school year.