Board chooses Gelbrich to lead schools

New superintendent to begin July 1 with $150,000 salary

Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2009

Juneau's new superintendent will be Glen Gelbrich of Salem, Ore., the Juneau School District announced Friday evening.

The School Board's decision came after hours of deliberation and three days of meetings and public interviews with the five finalist candidates. Gelbrich will begin July 1 with a salary of $150,000.

"The board is extraordinarily pleased with the selection and we look forward to the proven educational leadership that Mr. Gelbrich will bring to Juneau," School Board President Mark Choate said in statement.

Gelbrich, the deputy superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon since 2007, shared his thoughts on his new position in the district's press release.

"I am honored and very pleased to come to Juneau," Gelbrich said after his appointment. "I look forward to working with the Board, staff and the community of Juneau to build the best school district in the State of Alaska."

At the Salem-Keizer School District, Gelbrich also served as assistant superintendent for academic achievement and director of employee relations. Other education posts he's held include assistant superintendent for operations and director of student achievement in Portland, Ore., and principal in West Linn, Ore.

He earned his administrative license from the University of Oregon in 1993 and a master's degree in education from Oregon State University in 1987.

Outgoing Superintendent Peggy Cowan, who's finishing her sixth year in the post, announced in January that she would leave when her contract expires June 30 to pursue roles with more emphasis on instruction.

The School Board began searching for a successor in February. Its initial search ended April 10 with five finalists, of whom two subsequently withdrew. The School Board rebooted the search shortly thereafter and bumped the maximum pay up $40,000 to attract more candidates.

The district has shown progress in school performance in recent years, though dropout rates remain high and several schools failed to meet key standardized testing benchmarks. The district's transition from one traditional high school to two this past fall will be another work in progress Gelbrich must oversee. The school system has about 700 employees and 5,000 students.

• Contact reporter Jeremy Hsieh at 523-2258 or e-mail

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