Empire Editorial: Gelbrich's resignation the right move

Juneau School District’s Glenn Gelbrich has announced his resignation as superintendent.


It’s the right move.

Over the course of the past few months, it became apparent Gelbrich no longer intended to stay in Juneau. For that reason — as well as others — he made the right choice to step down and let the selection process begin for his replacement.

We’ve followed news of his applications for positions elsewhere. We’ve watched as he simultaneously made big decisions that will have lasting effects on our schools, teachers and — most importantly — our students.

Gelbrich made no secret of his choice to live away from Juneau, but he was not exactly forthcoming about his intent to seek employment elsewhere.

His first application — for a superintendent position in Montana — came as a surprise to many. When interviewed on that topic Gelbrich told reporter Matt Woolbright, that if he was not accepted for the Kalispell position, then he would stay in Juneau.

Roughly three months later, we reported news of yet another position he had applied for, this time in Idaho.

Then, at a public JSD board meeting this week, Gelbrich made a comment that raised more questions than it answered.

“There has been some interest in that I have looked at some other positions ... But with the changing superintendent role ...”

Now, we know what he meant.

His role is indeed changing.

It’s likely a change that will resonate well with community members who have seen their pleas and points fall on the deaf ears of the school board as an unfair middle school sports travel ban remains in place; many hoped their superintendent would stand to support them. The announcement may also come as a welcome surprise to school budget committee members who spent many hours cultivating viable solutions to the district’s tough budget questions, only to have them dashed again by the school board and the superintendent in favor of curriculum instead of teachers.

Our attention now turns to the school board he leaves behind, one that unanimously asked him to stay. For those members and for others who stood by Gelbrich, this announcement must bring mixed emotions.

During his tenure with the JSD, which began in 2009, Gelbrich’s initiatives brought forth measured improvements, like an increase in the graduation rate. Unfortunately, recent events have overshadowed earlier successes that should be remembered in a positive and grateful light. We hope the school board will continue to cultivate the programs that led to those steps upward, while also integrating reasonable requests from the public.

In the meantime, it’s time to pass the torch to someone who wants to live in Juneau, to someone who will listen and act on the needs and wants of our tight-knit community and who will facilitate an open and transparent office.

And to Gelbrich, we would like to say, good luck in your endeavors and thank you for your service.

• Managing Editor Charles Westmoreland recused himself from any involvement in the penning and editing of this editorial.


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