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Board bumps superintendent pay to $162K

Community meetings on April 16 and 17

Posted: April 15, 2014 - 12:05am

Juneau’s next superintendent is getting a pay raise — once someone has been hired to fill the job.

With the search underway, the Juneau School District Board of Education has decided to increase the salary to $162,000 and budget about $4,000 for advertising the position.

The board held a special meeting Thursday to hash out the new superintendent’s salary. Current Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich makes $155,000 per year, up from the $150,000 he received when he came onboard in 2009.

The board superintendent search committee — board members Sean O’Brien, Destiny Sergeant and Barbara Thurston — met earlier that day and decided on the range of $160,000 for the salary, based on superintendent search firm Ray and Associates’ recommendations at a prior board meeting.

Sergeant wanted to set the salary floor at $167,000 in the hopes of attracting better candidates, but said she would also be okay with $165,000. She said she was worried $160,000 wouldn’t attract enough interest.

“It would not be unreasonable to start at $167,000,” Sergeant said. “Instead of $160,000 do we want to go to $165,000 ... and negotiate from there? Because for me it’s a little scary to go to $160,000.”

If Gelbrich had not turned down raises every year after his first year, he would be up to about $167,000 or $168,000 per year, board President Sally Saddler said. But she was hesitant to set the salary so high because the board wouldn’t be able to negotiate any higher from whatever the district publishes in its job posting.

“It’s a tapdance,” Saddler said. “You don’t want to lowball so you exclude candidates, but you don’t want to eliminate the ability to negotiate.”

At $160,000, Juneau would have the fifth or sixth highest superintendent salary in the state, according to data from the Association of Alaska School Boards. At $165.000, Juneau would have the third highest. The board decided to split the difference and set the floor at $162,000 per year.

Juneau is the fifth largest district in the state, coming in behind the Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough and Kenai Peninsula Borough school districts.

According to research by the search committee, $160,000 per year was in the competitive range for Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Colorado, but low for Washington state.

The board also decided to run about $4,000 in job advertisements in national publications and websites, as well as on its own website and others in Alaska.

Because the superintendent search is a non-budgeted item there’s no real financial guidelines the board must follow in the process, JSD Director of Administration David Means said. However, they’re trying to keep costs as low as possible by holding telephone and Skype meetings with Ray and Associates rather than flying representatives up to Juneau, Saddler said.

Community involvement

The board also planned community meetings so stakeholders can contribute to the superintendent search.

Representatives from Ray and Associates will be in town this week to lead three public meetings, in which community members can provide input on what they’re looking for in the next superintendent.

Those meetings will take place simultaneously from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Juneau-Douglas High School library and the Thunder Mountain High School library. Another meeting will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School library.

The community can also provide input through a district survey, which can be found online at It will be available until 8 a.m. Friday. The board will consider input from the meetings and the survey when hiring the new superintendent.

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Karl Ashenbrenner
Karl Ashenbrenner 04/15/14 - 07:33 am

we will probably cut teaching positions but give the superintendent a raise? Methinks all is not right in LaLa Land.

Carrie Macaulay
Carrie Macaulay 04/15/14 - 08:12 am
As an apparent "stakeholder"

As an apparent "stakeholder" I won't be spending one minute of my time giving input into the process of hiring a new superintendent, just so the School Board can completely disregard that input, as they have recently with the Budget Committee and the middle school travel committee. They are going to hire whomever they choose regardless of what the public thinks.

Carrie Macaulay
Carrie Macaulay 04/15/14 - 07:59 am
And another

And another thing....interesting how out teachers had to fight tooth and nail for a year to get a 1 percent raise because of lack of funds, yet now the school board is concerned about the "low" superintendent salary not attracting a quality candidate? Shouldn't that same logic apply to teacher salaries? How can we expect to retain quality teachers without appropriate pay?

Bill Knabke
Bill Knabke 04/15/14 - 08:39 am
Did you guys not read the article?

It's still less than the amount the current Super would be getting, had he not chosen to turn down the step raises due to him.

Tom Leston
Tom Leston 04/15/14 - 10:26 am
Hire local. Pick the best one

Hire local. Pick the best one and start them at $45,000.00

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