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Empire Editorial: Gelbrich's resignation the right move

Posted: March 14, 2014 - 12:17am

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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Ronald Lind
Ronald Lind 03/14/14 - 09:08 am
Not agreeing does not mean not listening.

"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."

Just because someone, the superintendent, the board, etc. does not agree with your position does not mean they did not listen. I believe the board and the administration has many more concerns than those advocated by any one group: parents or teachers. There must have been reasons the board picked curriculum as a priority in budget decisions. Did the Empire ask for those reasons and report on them? I do not remember seeing those reported in the empire.

Debbie White
Debbie White 03/14/14 - 10:47 am
School board did not listen

Ronald - were you at any of the meetings at all? Did you read any of the reports? Yes, there was a link to the "Save our Sports" stakeholder community report.

Not one person at a school board meeting testified in favor of a ban. In fact there were over 100 people, parents and students, coaches and even Floyd Dryden's principal pleading for this change not to take affect. Unfortunately, the board chose to be "fair and equitable" by taking opportunity away from all students.

Well, maybe not all students. Just athletic students.

This was not a budget issue. The students, parents, and booster clubs raise the funds.This doesn't just affect Juneau students either. The regional impacts are immense.

Denise Guizio
Denise Guizio 03/14/14 - 11:38 am
Keep kids interested in school

If the School Board was really interested in continuing to increase the graduation rate it would remember how important athletics is for many high school students and an athletic foundation is nurtured at the middle school level. Also, important at any grade level is one on one interaction with your teacher and if your class size is too large it doesn’t matter what curriculum you are studying or how good the AVID student next to you is doing a high school diploma is often out of reach for the students they are trying to help the most.

Judy Hodel
Judy Hodel 03/14/14 - 04:35 pm
House Cleaning Vote Them Out

The JSD web site does not list the term expiration dates for current board members. Not included in their profiles. Maybe someone can find them so we can start the process of getting all new folks on the school board. Story has been on it forever and never endorses anything to do with athletics.

I would like to see John Kurland get on that board for starters.

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