At its once-a-year meeting in Homer on Monday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board unanimously approved authorizing Board President Joe Arness to offer Sean Dusek the position of interim superintendent and to negotiate the terms of Dusek’s employment.
“The KPBSD school board is proud and happy to be offering the position of interim superintendent to Mr. Sean Dusek,” said Joe Arness, board president, in a press release issued by the district. “We consider ourselves fortunate, indeed, to have someone with his credentials and abilities already on staff and ready to assume the leadership of our district during this transition process. Decisions regarding timing and scope relative to a permanent search will now be made in the absence of at least some of the time pressures.”
Since 2009, Dusek has been the district’s assistant superintendent of instructional services.
“I am honored to be offered the position of interim superintendent of our district. I look forward to meeting with President Arness to discuss the terms of the offer,” said Dusek.
The school board will take action to approve an interim superintendent contract for the remainder of the 2014-2015 fiscal year, beginning Dec. 1, at an upcoming board meeting. By January, the board will determine the next steps to hire a superintendent for the 2015-2016 school year and beyond.
Dusek was the district’s director of secondary education from 2005-2009, principal of Soldotna High School from 2002-2005, and assistant principal at SHS from 2000-2002. Prior to that, he was a classroom teacher at SHS from 1997-2000 and at Skyview High School from 1993-1997.
His memberships in professional organizations include the American Association of School Administrators and the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. He serves on the Alaska Technical Advisory Committee and the Alaska Assessment Advisory Committee.
In August, Dr. Steve Atwater announced he was resigning as KPBSD superintendent effective Dec. 1, to become the University of Alaska’s associate vice president for K-12 outreach, a newly created position.
During board comments at the board’s Monday meeting, Tim Navarre of Kenai said, “I appreciate the fact that our school district has great people that we can pull from within when we run into a situation like our superintendent leaving in December, that we have someone of Sean’s caliber to step right up and fill that void. I look forward to working with him … in his new position as he moves into it and look forward to how the future progresses. I think we’re in great hands. … Good luck, Sean.”
Two other personnel changes within the district were noted by the board: the resignation of Todd Syverson, principal of Soldotna High School, and Daniel Bohrnsen, the district’s career and technical coordinator. Both resignations are effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
“They have lots of years of experience and I appreciate their work and what they do for the school district,” said board member Penny Vadla of Soldotna.
Comments by Heidi Adams, head of the Chapman School parent group in Anchor Point, drew attention. Adams and her husband attended Chapman from kindergarten through eighth grade; their two children are now enrolled in the school.
Based on the Alaska School Performance Index, Chapman is a five-star school.
“I love Chapman,” said Adams. “The staff is phenomenal. They work hard and it shows. We feel privileged our kids are part of the school.”
Adams said she was saddened when a friend decided to enroll her children in a Homer school, thinking her children would receive a superior education at a school that wasn’t as badly in need of maintenance as Chapman.
“Chapman is one of the highest ranking schools in the district, yet we can’t get a paint job, lines painted in the parking lot and we can’t get our woodshop constructed,” said Adams. “We lose kids every year to Homer, to facilities that are, quite frankly, better than ours. … It is detrimental to all of us families that keep our students at Chapman. A school in the top 4 percent in the entire state deserves a building to match.”
Not only did Adams’ comments draw applause from the audience, they also got a response from Atwater during his superintendent’s report.
“I do recognize Chapman was not complete with all its maintenance projects. We’re working to make that complete,” said Atwater.
Vadla said she had noticed the need for new paint when she stopped at Chapman on her way to Homer. Board member Lynn Hohl of Seward said she would make a point to stop at the school on her way back to the east side of the peninsula on Tuesday.
Two school presentations received high praise Monday night, the first from Paul Banks Elementary School, a preK-2 school on East End Road.
“I want to open by thanking the students for sitting here for 10 minutes,” said Principal Eric Pederson. And to the audience, he added, “You have no idea…”
After Pederson’s overview of the school, the assembly and audience were entertained by the Paul Banks Peanuts performing “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and “The Kachemak Rag.” The second song was written by the school’s namesake, the late Paul Banks. The students were led by music teacher Tina Moore and accompanied on trumpet by Dustin Searle, the school’s custodian.
The performance rated a standing ovation from the audience, accompanied by enthusiastic cheers and applause.
“That’s not fair,” said Homer High School Principal Doug Waclawski, as he began his presentation on HHS.
“I can guarantee you I won’t be cuter than that. But this is great. You can see where they start and then where they finish at Homer High.”
The Homer Swing Choir, who was selected for a command performance at the Alaska School Activities Association state music festival last school year, also performed two pieces led by Kyle Schneider, the HHS choir director.
“I loved having the Peanuts here. It reminded me of when I had a Peanut,” said Homer board member Liz Downing, whose son attended Paul Banks Elementary School. “And it just blows me away listening to that (Homer High Swing) Choir. I am so proud of the Homer area.”
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board meets for a work session in Soldotna today. Its next regular meeting is Oct. 20.
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