Juneau is losing its school superintendent to state government.
Gary Bader, superintendent since 1999, was appointed today to be chief investment officer of the state Department of Revenue's Treasury Division. When he begins the job Feb. 1, he will oversee management of billions of dollars in state funds and public employee retirement accounts.
Assistant Superintendent Peggy Cowan will become interim superintendent.
Bader, former Juneau School District administrative services director, has a long history of financial management for state agencies. He began state service as a revenue auditor, served as deputy commissioner of the state Department of Administration under Gov. Steve Cowper and headed the state Division of Retirement and Benefits under Gov. Walter Hickel.
"I'm leaving because this is a job where I think I can provide service to the Department of Revenue and the pension funds and the administration. And it's working in an area I've been interested in all of my life," Bader said.
Bader's appointment was announced this morning by state Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus, who noted Bader's financial management experience.
Corbus said he knew Bader from the Alaska State Pension Investment Board, which manages retirement funds for public employees such as state and city workers and public school teachers. Bader spent four years chairing the investment panel.
"I worked with Gary when I served on the pension investment board in the 1990s and have always respected his judgment and his responsible approach to managing public funds," Corbus said.
Bader, 58, will continue his involvement in oversight of the more than $13 billion in public employee retirement funds as the Treasury Division's chief investment officer. He also will oversee investment of the state general fund, the $2 billion Constitutional Budget Reserve and several other public funds.
"The overreaching goal is the prudent financial management of the state's assets," Bader said. "In the past two years it's been hard for anybody to look good. We do place a heavy reliance of the investment of funds by outside professionals. ... The tricky part is to stay the course with sound financial practices."
Juneau School Board member Mary Becker said the panel agreed to release Bader from his superintendent's contract during a closed-door session at Tuesday night's board meeting.
"We are of course very sad to lose him but we also understand it is a wonderful opportunity for him and the state," Becker said. "We know our assistant superintendent is competent and able to step in."
No decision has been made about the hiring process for a new superintendent, she said.