Anchorage School District asks community for input on superintendent search

An empty conference room
The Anchorage School District board room when it is empty, taken March 13, 2020. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage School District is searching for a new superintendent, and members of the public have been invited to weigh in.

Superintendent Deena Bishop announced in November that she would retire at the end of this school year. She’s led the state’s largest school district since 2016.

Now, the district is asking the community for its input on Bishop’s replacement, seeking comment through community surveys and virtual town halls.

At Tuesday’s town hall hosted by Leadership Anchorage, participants were asked about qualities they’d like to see in the new superintendent. Kima Hamilton read some of the answers out loud.

“Ability to think outside the box, as we see a lot of what we’re doing now is not working in making students proficient on a national level,” Hamilton said. “Negotiation — the ability to balance the needs of the teachers, the kids and the parents. An openness to change and adaptability. Independent thinking and willingness to make changes to admin structure.”

Participants were also asked about issues the new superintendent will need to address. Answers included staff morale, learning loss during the pandemic and reading scores.

George Martinez is with the Alaska Humanities Forum, the parent organization of Leadership Anchorage. He said its goal is to provide the school board with as much diverse community input as possible.

“These [town hall meetings] are really important,” he said. “The more voices in this process, the better.”

The final virtual town hall is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 27, from 6 to 7 p.m. The school district’s community survey closes on Feb. 2. According to the superintendent search timeline, the district plans to review candidate applications in mid-February and interview final candidates by the end of that month.

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