FNSB School Board expected to keep Karen Melin as Superintendent

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 4:21 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board (FNSBSB) voted unanimously to move forward with discussions to make Interim Superintendent Karen Melin’s position permanent.

In January of 2021, the board recruited nationwide for a new superintendent of schools after Dr. Karen Gaborik announced retirement. Gaborik, who had been with the district for more than 25 years, left behind a significant position to fill.

“After a national search assisted by the Association of Alaska School Boards, the board determined none of the finalists were the right match or candidate to the district,” Tim Doran, the FNSBSB President said at the October 19th Regular Meeting.

In May, the Board offered Melin a one-year employment agreement as Interim Chief School Administrator for July 1st, 2021, through June 30th, 2022.

On October 4th, the Board held a work session to discuss and review its options related to its upcoming search for a District Superintendent or Chief School Administrator.

Doran said the number of tasks the Superintendent would be responsible for has grown since their original search.

“When we started the Superintendent search last year, we recognized some real tasks,” Doran said. “Anyone coming onto the position would have to deal with COVID impacts, [and] they’d need to deal with budget shortfalls and challenges, not only this year but for several years, as we can see.”

Doran explained the Superintendent would also be responsible for looking at the whole budgeting process, including how the district is utilizing each building both in effectiveness for instruction and learning for students, as well as effectiveness in terms of what costs are involved. He added that this year, the school district will also be negotiating with its three associations.

Doran said he talked to some recruiters in terms of what the landscape looks like for candidates.

“It’s still a pretty unstable and challenging education market throughout the state and nationwide,” Doran said. “There are a lot of interim positions, actually more than you would normally anticipate, mostly a result of COVID.”

“One of the things I hear a lot about is: we need some stability, we need some consistency while we continue with progression,” Doran added.

Several other School Board Members agreed.

“With so many things coming at us from all different angles, to have a stable leader who can deal with those things, take them head-on and be the strong leadership voice for our community and our district is what we are looking for in Ms. Melin,” Chrya Anderson, FNSB School Board Member said.

“It’s important to have that consistency. It’s important to have leadership longer for just one year, especially as we have multiple-year projects that are vital to have an incredible team in place,” Jennifer Luke, Vice President of the FNSB School Board said.

“I hope that by having a longer contract and being committed to a longer period of time is going to empower Ms. Melin to feel motivated to take a strong leadership position,” April Smith, FNSB School Board Member said at the board’s October meeting.

“I, too, am in support of this decision. It was recently recommended to us by experts in the education field that we as a Board provide stable and consistent leadership to our district,” Erin Morottie, FNSB School Board Member added. “I am grateful to have someone that can be that leader in our community. Our expectations are still incredibly high, and I am confident and hopeful that Ms. Melin can reach those expectations if given time.”

A subcommittee is meeting Monday, October 25th, to talk about the issue. If the committee decides to move forward on the recommendation, the School Board will vote on Melin’s contract at the November 2nd Regular Meeting.

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