Tales from Wasilla: Superintendent Gene Stone


Mat-Su Borough Superintendent Gene Stone at a ribbon cutting at the new Iditarod Elementary School last year. (Matt Hickman/Frontiersman)

Mat-Su Borough Superintendent Gene Stone at a ribbon cutting at the new Iditarod Elementary School last year. (Matt Hickman/Frontiersman)

The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reports that Mat-Su Borough School District Superintendent Gene Stone resigned “for personal reasons.”

Heh.

Consider: The meeting was called on less than four hours notice. Superintendent Stone was not present at the meeting. School district legal counsel Saul Freidman was present. The school board met in a two our long executive session beforehand. The public part of the meeting was scripted. And the only comment on Superintendent Stone was a written statement prepared in advance. Oh, and the Board was satisfied enough with Stone’s performance in December to extend his contract.

You don’t have to have been a lawyer for a school district to know that Superintendent Stone didn’t jump; he was pushed.

Serving as a school district superintendent in Alaska has to be one of the toughest jobs there is. Your district is chronically under-funded, you serve at the pleasure of a handful of elected folks who all too often have personal agendas. You are whipsawed between labor unions and the municipality that controls your budget. The school board will unfailingly blame you for their mistakes. And you get to attend school board meetings where, more often than not, you are publicly flogged for things you can’t control.

Worse than all that, you are judged on things like students’ performance on standardized tests. The best predictors for student success are the smallest possible class sizes and the best possible teachers. The Alaska Legislature’s merciless slashing of education funding force school districts to ever larger classes. And Alaska teacher salaries are no longer competitive in the national teacher marketplace. It’s like a recipe for doom and failure.

Superintendent Stone held the position for just ten months. He was promoted to the position in May 2016 from a job as Assistant Superintendent. He’d been with the District more than 18 years. A school district doesn’t easily replace that experience.

Now maybe WC is mis-reading the available information here; maybe Superintendent Stone really did resign; maybe there really are personal reasons” – other than, obviously, it was that or be fired. And maybe Donald Trump as president is just a bad dream and we’ll all wake up soon.

WC wishes the new interim superintendent, Dr. Monica Goyette, lots of good luck.

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