Juneau School District Bridget Weiss, shown in this September 2021 photo, shows an art project she completed as a kindergarten student at Harborview Elementary School. Weiss, superintendent since 2018, received a one-year extension of her contract until June of 2025 on Tuesday. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire File)

Juneau School District Bridget Weiss, shown in this September 2021 photo, shows an art project she completed as a kindergarten student at Harborview Elementary School. Weiss, superintendent since 2018, received a one-year extension of her contract until June of 2025 on Tuesday. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire File)

Superintendent gets contract extension, raise

Bridget Weiss, Alaska’s 2022 Superintendent of the Year, to preside over Juneau schools until 2025.

This article has been updated to include additional comments from Superintendent Bridget Weiss.

Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss, who during the past year has presided over problems ranging from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic to a widely publicized incident in which children were served floor sealant to drink, will remain at her job through June of 2025 under a one-year contract extension approved Tuesday.

A unanimous vote for the extension following several evaluation meetings was cast by the Juneau Board of Education, with members citing her handling of hardships during the past year and goals set by the board for the coming year as factors. Weiss received Alaska’s 2022 Superintendent of the Year award from the Alaska Superintendents Association last September.

“It has been a few years that none of us predicted, and I’m more excited that we are getting back to normal,” Board Vice President Brian Holst said. “I am excited about our plan, about your leadership and about your helping us to execute this very ambitious plan.”

Juneau School District Bridget Weiss, shown in this September 2021 photo, shows an art project she completed as a kindergarten student at Harborview Elementary School. Weiss, superintendent since 2018, received a one-year extension of her contract until June of 2025 on Tuesday. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire File)

Juneau School District Bridget Weiss, shown in this September 2021 photo, shows an art project she completed as a kindergarten student at Harborview Elementary School. Weiss, superintendent since 2018, received a one-year extension of her contract until June of 2025 on Tuesday. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire File)

Weiss’ new contract includes a salary raise to $185,000, up from $168,064 during “at least the two years” and $163,000 when she became superintendent in 2018, Board President Elizabeth Siddon said in an interview Thursday. She said specifics of the board’s evaluation in executive sessions cannot be disclosed and “I don’t think I can answer” what grade Weiss would receive if the evaluation was a report card.

“If you want to take the update of the contract as an indication of those discussions you can connect the dots,” Siddon said.

Weiss, who grew up attending Juneau schools, said in an interview she doesn’t know how long she might want to remain superintendent if it’s her decision.

“I’m in my own town doing the work I love supporting my community and supporting the school district,” she said. “I don’t have a specific end date to that.”

By law the superintendent’s contract cannot extend beyond three years and the board’s evaluations are an annual process. Holst said “there is great value” in the stability of retaining a superintendent with local ties and years of experience.

Weiss was the director of student services and a member of the superintendent’s leadership team from 2014 until 2018, when she became superintendent.

Her contract extension drew a couple of critical comments from members of the public before the board’s vote.

Aaron Spratt, a frequent critic of the district’s leadership and past school board candidate, referred to flooding in January at Kax̱dig̱oowu Héen Elementary (previously known as Riverbend Elementary School) and the incident in June when students in a summer program were served floor sealant instead of milk. He also expressed concern Siddon referred to a press release being sent out about the extension before the vote on it occurred.

“I’m troubled the press release is already written, so my commentary isn’t valid,” he said.

Concern about “extreme bullying, and the way it was handled specifically by the superintendent and staff,” was expressed by Leak Poklemba.

“We were told by the superintendent it would be looked at and we would be contacted, and it was never responded to,” she said, adding “it’s a little bit concerning as a parent how this is going to be handled going into the future.”

Weiss on Thursday said she could not address the specific incident in question, but stated she didn’t feel bullying was any more or less significant than her previous “normal” years working for the district. But with in-person classes suspended for an extended period of time during the pandemic, when attendance resumed there was a lot of “restorative” effort by staff in various aspects of student and group interactions.

“We definitely felt last year that there was a lot of that reteaching,” she said.

Siddon, in her interview, said the board did not specifically discuss bullying in its evaluation of Weiss and the flooding incident focused on her response rather than the fact it occurred.

“We’re not going to hold her responsible for water freezing,” Siddon said.

The four goals set by the board are improving reading achievement, a safety and security review, reviving multi-tiered system of supports for individual students at elementary schools, and updating the district’s strategic plan.

Siddon said reading scores have been below the goals in the strategic plan and that Weiss during the past year had a “reading achievement action team” assess the situation.

“This year will be about implementing the recommendations from that reading achievement team,” she said.

The MTSS program offering varying levels of support for students needing it fell off during the COVID-19 pandemic, Siddon said. During the board meeting she also said the waning of the pandemic is a reason for addressing the strategic plan during the coming year.

“When we wrote (the plan) it was a five-year plan we said it was a living document, it was not written in stone,” she said. “It is our intention to revisit that now with two years of COVID under our belt.”

Aspects of the security review were addressed by Weiss in her report at the meeting just before the board’s contract extension vote. She noted the first inventory of all door locks since 2018 will be completed next month and crisis response training for administrative staff started this week.

“We want to revisit that school by school and we will sort of be peeling back the layers of that emergency preparedness all year long,” she said.

Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@

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