Atwater announces resignation as school district superintendent

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Steve Atwater announced his resignation during his superintendent’s report to the Board of Education Monday in Soldotna. His resignation is effective Dec. 1.

According to a press release from the district received via email following the meeting, Atwater said the decision to resign was difficult.

“However, I am excited to become the University of Alaska’s Associate Vice President for K-12 Outreach, a newly created position,” he said. “I am appreciative of working for a supportive school board that places our students’ needs as their number one priority and am proud that our district made so many improvements while I was here.”

The board unanimously approved his resignation. 

Board member Penny Vadla said she appreciated Atwater’s visionary outlook.

With the new school year beginning on Aug. 19, board member Sunni Hilts said with Atwater’s resignation it’s a strange time for an ending.

“This is when things start to happen again that are life-changing for our students and I really appreciate Dr. Atwater’s heart in this every year,” she said.

To fill the position, the board has three options: to conduct a national search and make a new hire; appoint a new superintendent from qualified internal or external candidates; or hire an interim superintendent for the remainder of the school year, according to the release. A decision on how the board will proceed will be made during an executive session at the board’s Sept. 8 meeting in Homer, according to Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD communication specialist.

Atwater, Alaska’s 2013 Superintendent of the Year, has worked for the Kenai Peninsula school district for six years. Previously, he was the superintendent of the Lake and Peninsula School District in King Salmon, Alaska, according to his resume.

Currently, Atwater draws a salary of $140,000 a year from the district, according to the district office administrator salary schedules last approved by the board of education in 2013.

In 2011, Atwater was announced as a finalist for the Anchorage School District’s superintendent position but ultimately lost that position to a candidate from Florida.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said Atwater had done a “great job” for the school district.

“I hate to see him leaving, but I understand that he has to make decisions in his best interests and he has to move on,” Mike Navarre said. “We have to look at it as an opportunity to go out and search for the best person we can.”

Mike Navarre said he had a good working relationship with Atwater.

“We had good communication and back and forth, based on mutual respect and I’ll miss him,” he said.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at and Rashah McChesney can be reached at