The Juneau School District is one of Juneau's largest employers, but it has at times not been a well-managed business. Juneau now has an opportunity to hire a new district superintendent. I encourage the Juneau School Board to place a priority on good management skills.
The district's budget is difficult to understand, both by board members and by the public. Administration has long focused the board's attention on a small number of "increments" and not on the needed task of looking for cost savings. In my last year on the School Board (2008-09), I consistently and often solely voted against unsustainable budget increases, pointing out the district's responsibility to set aside funding for new employee contracts and to deal realistically with the challenge to the School District's finances posed by a second high school when previous projections proved to be erroneous.
Consultants have pointed out administrative waste and mismanagement. I refer, for example, to a recent educational technology report by the Southeast Regional Resource Center, available electronically.
The School Board's search for a new superintendent is a chance to turn a new leaf. I believe we need an experienced and successful CEO who can bring discipline to financial disorder, who has corrected waste and inefficiency, who can shift some resources to early intervention to prevent drop out problems, and who can generally bring sound management and fiscal discipline to the School District.