AM 890 and Serving the Kenai Peninsula

Seven district schools looking for principals

Mountain View Elementary in Kenai is one of seven schools with a principal opening.
Riley Board

Seven peninsula schools are on the hunt for a new principal.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has principal openings at Mountain View Elementary in Kenai, Redoubt Elementary in Soldotna, Chapman Elementary in Anchor Point, Seward Elementary, the Susan B. English School in Seldovia, the Ninilchik School, and Nikiski Middle/High School.

District Superintendent Clayton Holland said the search process is underway. The district has promoted the jobs on its website and other national job sites. Holland said the district usually hires a mix of internal candidates and outside hires.

“We’re looking for people that want to stay there and make a difference,” he said. “The longer a leader stays in a building, the higher the outcomes are. So the longer we can keep people there, people who invest in the community, the better for us.”

Holland said teachers from other village schools in Alaska will be interested in rural KPBSD schools because, while off the road system, they’re only a short flight from the peninsula’s cities. He said the district also offers incentives, like five free flights and covering moving costs.

Holland said the number of openings isn’t unusual and many are the result of long-standing principals retiring. But he said, overall, KPBSD and districts across the state are struggling to recruit teachers.

“Where we are with education in Alaska, with funding, and what that does to salary schedules all had an impact. It makes it difficult to attract people and then keep them,” he said. “We’re at a very precarious time in Alaska with the future of education.”

Holland said many districts are relying on J1 visa holders to fill openings, many from the Philippines. He also said recruitment in the district is delayed because of budget uncertainty.

He said a big transition in recruitment has been from in-person job fairs and events to online tactics. The district is also trying to reach universities quickly to recruit students. There are five students from Wisconsin working in the district as student teachers. Holland said he’s waiting to see if those students decide to stay in the district for the long term.

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Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.