After talks with the Juneau School District Board of Education, Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich has decided to step down from his post at the end of the school year, he said.
Gelbrich said he’s had conversations with the school board for “a couple of months” on why he needs to leave Juneau for the Lower 48, citing personal reasons.
“At this stage I don’t have another job, but I’m confident I’ll find another,” he said.
Gelbrich said the board asked unanimously for him to stay, but he rejected their request. He informed the board of his intent during an executive session at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“I brought the letter in today,” he said Thursday. “The board will have a chance to see the letter in their (meeting) packet.”
Board President Sally Saddler said the board had a unified front on wanting Gelbrich to stay.
“The board has complete confidence in Glenn’s ability to carry out the mission and the vision of our strategic plan,” she said. “It saddens me that Glenn feels like he needs to leave because he is one of our community’s greatest treasures.”
Saddler said she believes Gelbrich is resigning because he feels he has become the focus of community members who disagree with what the district as a whole is doing.
“He thinks, ‘If I step out of the way maybe they’ll see this is the direction the board, the community and the administration is moving,’” she said.
She said she believes that if Gelbrich didn’t feel such pressure from a small group to leave, “that he would stay here and keep working.”
“We have a small number of people in our community who have not embraced our strategic plan and providing for every student,” Saddler said.
When asked if the district’s policy on middle school travel will change after Gelbrich’s departure, she said: “No, it was a board decision.”
Gelbrich took his post in July 2009, and his contract with the district runs through 2016. Under his leadership, graduation rates increased by 10 percent to an almost 80 percent rate in one year. He made teacher professional development a focus in the district. He was recently a finalist for superintendent positions in Kalispell, Mont., and Nampa, Idaho, but did not land either job.
Saddler said once Gelbrich has moved on, she feels some community members will continue to be upset with the district’s decisions; Gelbrich’s presence or lack thereof won’t make a difference.
“The interesting part is what will be the next problem; what will be the next reason we’re not achieving success?” Saddler said. “It becomes a moving target.”
• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.