Juneau City Attorney Robert Palmer, left, swears-in new school board members Paul Kelly, Kevin Allen and Elizabeth “Ebett” Siddon on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, at Thunder Mountain High School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau City Attorney Robert Palmer, left, swears-in new school board members Paul Kelly, Kevin Allen and Elizabeth “Ebett” Siddon on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, at Thunder Mountain High School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Three join school board, new superintendent search starts

Baton passed for three at Board of Education, district looking for new superintendent

Three new members of the City and Borough of Juneau Board of Education took their seats at a Tuesday meeting at Thunder Mountain High School library.

Paul Kelly, Ebett Siddon and Kevin Allen all ran uncontested in the Oct. 2 municipal election, taking the seats of outgoing board members Emil Mackey and Andi Story — who left to run for higher office — and Josh Keaton, who did not run again.

The board also formed a subcommittee to search for a new superintendent.

City attorney Robert Palmer swore in the new board members before a TMHS library packed with family and friends of the new and old board members.

Kelly is a programmer with the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF). Siddon is fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Allen, the youngest member of the board, is only two years out of high school. He graduated from TMHS in 2016 and now takes classes at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Allen, 20, who had twice previously ran for school board, jumped at a chance to participate from the start, seconding the approval a consent agenda — a routine item of board business — in about half a second.

“Nicely done,” board president Brian Holst said.

Running uncontested for the seat, Kelly didn’t have to make his case to voters. He told the Empire he hopes to prove his worth through his work on the board.

Siddon told the Empire that the three new board members have their work cut out for them getting up to speed.

“I just have so much to learn about what the breadth of our role is,” Siddon said.

The board voted to reinstate President Brian Holst without objection. Vice President Dan DeBartolo was elected board vice president, taking the place of Keaton, the outgoing VP.

Super search starts

Former superintendent Mark Miller left his position at the head of the Juneau School District in July, and since then, interim superintendent Bridget Weiss, formerly the director of student services, has filled the role.

A search for a permanent superintendent began Tuesday as the board formed a subcommittee to plan recruitment. The issue at hand is the search’s scope: the district could look within Alaska or nationwide, said JSD Director of Human Resources Darryl Smith. A statewide search would take about $10,000 and a few months, Smith said, while a national search would take five to six months and cost between $30,000-$50-000.

When last searching for a superintendent in 2014, the district spent about $44,000 on a nationwide search, said Kristin Bartlett, district office chief of staff. Much of that was spent on advertising and the hiring of recruitment firms, Smith said.

At least one candidate is local, Holst said, as Weiss is in the running for the position.

The three-member committee will be chosen by Holst sometime after Tuesday’s meeting and will consist of board of education members who express interest in the role. It will return to the board in November with a few recommendations on how to find the new superintendent.

“That committee won’t be making any decisions, they will be giving us a few options,” Holst said.

Story, Mackey, Keaton honored

At her last meeting, Story earned two different awards for her 15 years of service on the board.

Lisa Skiles Parady, executive director of the Alaska Council of School Administrators, presented Story with the Don MacKinnon Excellence in Education Award from the Alaska Superintendents Association. Former Rep. Justin Parish also presented Story with a commendation from the Alaska Legislature.

In her last meeting with the board, Story earned a standing ovation from the group gathered for the meeting.

“You have been an inspiration to all of us,” Holst said.

Story has sat on a long list of school site councils and board committees in her time in education politics.

Rather than run for another term, Story, a Democrat, chose to run for a seat in the Alaska House of Representatives. She’s up against former CBJ Assembly member Jerry Nankervis, a Republican, in the Nov. 6 statewide election.

She took her last few moments with the board to advocate for federal dollars for special education funds.

“There’s a few things that everyone in this room needs to be doing,” she said, including calling our federal representatives to ask for funding for special education.

Mackey and Keaton also left the board, each having served for three years.

An emotional Mackey said he served on the school board for the same reason he ran for Juneau Assembly. (Mackey lost his race for District II.)

“It’s about the kids. … Our nation and our state have let down the kids for far too long. … We’re doing the best we can with the money that’s here, but it’s not enough,” he said.

Keaton will remain on with several site school site councils, he said, and left only to deal with a few personal issues.

“You’ll still see me, I’ll keep you honest — I’ll just be on that side of the table,” he said.

He had a message for the new board members.

“It’s a little bit like drinking from a fire hose for the first three months — but you’ll get skilled,” he said.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the Week of May 28

Here’s what to expect this week.

The Yées Ḵu.Oo Dancers perform at the end of the Celebration of Life Walk on Sunday at Bill Overstreet Park. The walk, hosted locally by Cancer Connection for more than two decades, occurs on National Cancer Survivors Day. This year’s local celebration featured the first bagpiper, Alaska Native dance group and Native land acknowledgement. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Bagpipes and dancers bring new life to annual cancer survivors walk

“Everyone is touched by cancer,” organizer says at Sunday event.

Chris Meade, a board member of Trail Mix and Juneau resident since 1991, uses a vibrating plate compactor to compress gravel leading to a viewing platform along the Kingfisher Pond Loop Trail on Saturday. (Mark Sabatini / Juneau Empire)
Trail Mix celebrates wild 30th birthday

Birds and the bears add ardor to outdoor trail improvement and cookout gathering.

The City and Borough of Juneau Harbormaster Enforcement vessel drives past the Dusky Rock which sits at Aurora Harbor. The vessel was towed there from Sandy beach Friday evening after three people died within a three-day period aboard the vessel while anchored offshore. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Three people found dead on boat anchored off Sandy Beach

Drug use a possible factor in deaths of one man and two women during three-day span

The Mendenhall Glacier and surrounding area is seen under an overcast sky on May 12. A federal order published Friday bans mineral extraction activities such as mining in an expanded area of land surrounding the glacier for the next 20 years. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Feds expand ban on mineral extraction near Mendenhall Glacier

20-year prohibition on mining, oil drilling applies to newly exposed land as ice continues retreat

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, June 1, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Bulk food in Food Bank of Alaska’s Anchorage warehouse on April 21. (Photo by Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
State roughly halves the number of Alaskans waiting on food aid, but more than 8,000 remain

By Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon Mary Wood has been waiting for food… Continue reading

A white butterfly rests upon a fern Saturday at Prince of Wales Island. (Courtesy Photo / Marti Crutcher)
Wild Shots

Reader-submitted photos of Mother Nature in Southeast Alaska.

Photos by Lee House / Sitka Conservation Society
Aliyah Merculief focuses on her run while snowboarding at Snow Camp.
Resilient Peoples & Place: Bringing up a new generation of Indigenous snow shredders

“Yak’éi i yaada xwalgeiní” (“it is good to see your face”) reads… Continue reading

Most Read