Luke Meinert selected as new superintendent of Fairbanks North Star Borough School District

The school board has announced the appointment of its new school superintendent.
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 12:06 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Luke Meinert was appointed to be the new superintendent of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District (FNSBSD) on Saturday, February 18.

Meinert currently serves as the assistant superintendent in the FNSBSD. He’s worked in his current role since 2020 and previously worked in the Yukon-Koyokuk School District as an administrator.

Prior to the announcement on Saturday, Luke Meinert and two other candidates attended forums on Thursday and Friday. During the second forum, Meinert had an opportunity to outline his goals as superintendent and how he would achieve those goals.

Meinert said the first thing he wants to focus on is budget stabilization. He said this can be done by finding ways for the district to increase revenue. He noted this can be done by creating actionable outcomes, or outcomes that show change. Finally, he added that he wants to improve academic performance.

The candidates also answered questions from different community perspectives. On the note of academic performance, one question asked how each candidate would work to improve performance among Alaska Native students. Meinert said he wants to achive this goal by collaborating with the Fairbanks Native Association, Tanana Chiefs Conference and Doyon Limited. “I’d also like to introduce an Alaska Native language program,” said Meinert.

From the University of Alaska, another question of collaboration came up, for which Meinert replied, “we’re looking at dual credit opportunities in high schools.” He also said the district was working on writing policy, that would allow for weighted grades to be used in dual-enrollment classes. Meinert praised current collaboration, saying that we wants to continue the mentorship program for student teachers.

Other questions focused on labor management, student-teacher ratios, and how to improve communication with the borough. For these questions, Meinert emphasized a need for a good working relationship with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly. He also acknowledged that while the district faces financial difficulties, there is space for improvement in contract negotiations. Meinert spoke about understanding the teacher’s perspective, an example of which he worked on by comparing pictures of different class sizes. He also brought up a need to improve the pay and opportunities for support staff. This included better budgeting for support staff and opportunities for promotion.

The candidates were also asked which skills they thought are the most important to teach students. Meinert replied by highlighting the efforts at Hutchison High School to teach work skills. “I’d like to expand throughout the district in our secondary schools,” Meinert said.

Meinert was also confronted with a question that has come up frequently in recent years. Does he support later start times? In response to the question, Meinert said he does support later start times and it’s a topic he would want community input on. He did, however, claim that the earlier start times that have been implemented in the district have resulted in some students having attendance issues for their morning classes. He also added that one student had shown him research that found fifteen minutes of sleep deprivation to have a full letter impact on grades.