Juneau School District Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich has applied for the same position in Kalispell, Mont.
Gelbrich is one of nine candidates being considered for the position.
“While I am deeply committed to the work we are doing and the direction of our school board, there are personal and professional reasons that cause me to explore this opportunity,” Gelbrich told the Empire in an email. “I greatly appreciate the unwavering support of our school board and the many people in our community who are helping us pursue excellence for our students.”
The development comes as the Juneau School District is in the midst of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for its teachers, and while a committee is exploring alternatives to a highly controversial decision by the school board this fall that bans middle school sports travel effective next year.
The Kalispell Public Schools Board of Trustees is expected to name “three or four” finalists at its meeting today, which starts at 4 p.m. Alaska time, according to Don Murray, one of the Kalispell trustees. The Juneau School Board is also meeting at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Juneau-Douglas High School library for its regular monthly meeting.
Juneau School Board president Sally Saddler said if Gelbrich does leave for the Kalispell job that, “it would be a serious loss for this community, and a real gain for the citizens of Kalispell.”
She added that the professional development for employees and curriculum upgrades Gelbrich has ushered in have laid a solid foundation for Juneau schools going forward.
“The work he set in place here ... it’s all the right ingredients we as the board envisioned we need to have in place to be a world-class school system,” Saddler said.
The Kalispell superintendent oversees about 5,900 students at two high schools, one middle school and five elementary schools, as well as an alternative school program. The position also leads a team of 690 employees.
By comparison, Juneau has about 5,000 students at three high schools, two middle schools and seven elementary schools. There are 745 employees here.
The Kalispell superintendent positions pays $125,000 per year plus benefits, compared to the $155,000 salary Gelbrich currently earns.
Kalispell’s total budget is $66.6 million, and Juneau’s is $77.8 million.
“In researching the work underway in Kalispell and the community itself, it appears to be a place — like Juneau — where great things are possible for kids,” Gelbrich said.