The Juneau School Board has announced Frank Hauser, Carlee Simon and Thom Peck as the three finalists for the district’s superintendent position.
The district will host a public forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Thunder Mountain High School to give all three candidates a chance to meet with students, parents and staff. Additionally, the candidates will be interviewed by the school board on Tuesday, March 28. According to the district, more information about the candidates and the interview schedule will be posted at juneauschools.org as it becomes available.
According to his online biography, Frank Hauser is an Alaska educator with 25 years of experience. Hauser served as Sitka School District’s superintendent since the fall of 2020 before announcing his resignation in February.
Previously a music teacher and principal in Anchorage, Hauser was named Alaska’s 2019 Principal of the Year in addition to being a finalist for superintendent positions within Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The consulting firm Ray and Associates recently assisted Alaska’s Board of Education in the search for a new superintendent by holding a Q&A session with each candidate via Zoom.
When asked what about his previous experience he felt made him a good fit for the Alaska School District, Hauser spoke about his extensive background within the Alaska education system specifically.
“I’m a graduate of the Alaska school district myself from the Mat-Su Valley,” Hauser said. “I also hold degrees from all three major branches of the University of Alaska system, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Southeast where I actually earned my superintendent certificate.”
Carlee Simon, formerly the Alachua County Public Schools superintendent in Florida for two years, is best known for developing streamlined approaches to gathering district data, as well as for negotiating the largest collective bargaining agreement in the district’s history to address teacher and staff retention and morale, according to an online bio. During her time in Florida, Simon’s decision to require masking in schools, a position that defied Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stance, drew national attention as did her subsequent firing.
While masking was occasionally a flash-point issue during school board meetings, Alaska did not directly oppose masking requirements, and the Juneau School District made masking optional late in the 2021-2022 school year.
When asked via Zoom how she stays current with practices for K-12 education, Simon responded by saying she stays involved and up to date with current research and with speaking to scholars and professionals to ensure she’s as well informed as to what’s going on inside the school system and higher education.
“I like to attend conferences where I can hear from the experts and discuss solutions to our current challenges,” Simon said. “I consider myself to be very much involved in the understanding of the current research and applying it to the practice, I think it’s extremely important to continue that. I also would prefer to make sure that I have these opportunities provided as well to staff and administrators to make sure they’re also developed professionally in using the current research to drive their practice.”
Simon is also the founder of the advocacy group Families Deserve Inclusive Schools, which focuses on adequate education funding and local control of school districts in Florida.
Peck has served for 35 years as a Montana educator and stated in an online bio, “I’ve had 35 consecutive first-day-of-school-days and I get nervous as if every year was the first.”
Serving as the superintendent for Lewistown Public Schools in Montana for the last six years, Peck was also previously the superintendent of two other districts within Montana while additionally serving as the president of his region’s superintendents association. He began his career as a science teacher and coach.
In an online bio, Peck said he’d like to serve in the position because of a “desire” to be challenged by a larger school district with the “tremendous diversity” that Juneau offers.
“Juneau’s resources, strengths, and challenges fascinate me, and I believe I am a very good fit to lead the district through its challenges, as well as build upon its strengths,” Peck stated.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.