Director of Student Services Bridget Weiss will take over as the interim superintendent for the Juneau School District, the Board of Education decided at a special board meeting Monday night.
Weiss, who has been in her position since 2014, was one of three internal candidates for the position, and will replace departing superintendent Mark Miller. Miller resigned on July 25 after four years in the position, and is leaving to become the superintendent of the Sonora High School District in Sonora, California.
Weiss, 55, is a Juneau-Douglas High School graduate in the class of 1980 and said she was “in awe” to earn this promotion at a meeting in the same building where she attended high school. Weiss will be the superintendent through this school year until June 30, 2019 and the board will then do a full search for a superintendent.
Weiss will still be in the running for being the full-time superintendent, the board members said at Monday’s meeting. She said her goal is to earn that long-term position.
“I’m hoping to lead the district for a long time,” Weiss said. “This is my home. This is absolutely the place where I want to be and where I want to serve and build the best school district we can.”
Prior to starting with JSD in 2014, she was the principal at North Pole High School in the Fairbanks School District for four years. She has a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Washington State University, and was an interim superintendent at Nine Mile Falls School District in Washington in 2007-2008.
Miller’s last day is Aug. 15, and Weiss will take over the next day. Up until then, she will work closely with Miller to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. The first day of the new school year is Aug. 20.
The board members also agreed to put a clause into her contract that guarantees her a job with the district in an administrative role for the 2019-2010 school year if she is not selected as the full-time superintendent. Board President Brian Holst said he didn’t want Weiss to perform a major service for the district and then get left “on the sidelines.”
With Miller’s departure coming with so little time before the school year begins, the board members agreed to move quickly and get someone in place before the first day of classes.
The board members agreed at their July 27 meeting that they would look at internal candidates, hoping to maintain some stability in the district. The other candidates were Thunder Mountain High School Principal Dan Larson and Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School Principal Molly Yerkes. The three candidates were considered because they all have certifications to be superintendents.
The three candidates met with members of the public this past Thursday, and the board members met afterward and discussed the merits of the three candidates.
“We received a considerable amount of comments via email but also had a wonderful turnout that evening,” Holst said at Monday’s meeting.
Holst said the board members were ready after that Thursday meeting to announce their decision. Monday’s meeting was brief, with Holst providing a quick overview of the process. The board members then unanimously agreed to select Weiss.
Multiple JSD employees, including Larson and Yerkes, congratulated Weiss. She smiled and laughed with them, but kept saying that there is a great deal of work to do. She said there will be labor negotiations this year, there will be a renewed focus on early childhood education and there will be another intense budget cycle. In looking at the budget cycle, Weiss said it takes a group effort to make those tough decisions.
“How we do that is collectively and paying attention to the most efficient systems we can and thinking through how we use what resources we have and make an impact for all of our kids,” Weiss said.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.