Outgoing superintendent critiques school system

Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich offers a brief critique of the school system in his resignation letter.

Juneau School District Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich was passed up for the same job in Nampa, ID this week. It's the second time in recent months Gelbrich has been a finalist for a superintendent job in the Lower 48. He says he wants to move closer to family, including his wife Ruth in Oregon. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO)

Juneau School District Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich at a recent board meeting. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO)

Gelbrich writes,

“Clinging to the status quo will not produce a different result. Without broader support for systemic instructional changes, our students who now struggle will continue to struggle in the system. While we have dramatic gains in the graduation rate, academic improvement has been modest. Change is needed — for the sake of so many of our community’s kids.”

Gelbrich began as Juneau’s superintendent in July 2009. At the end of his first year, the district’s graduation rate was 69 percent, according to state education statistics. By the end of his fourth year, the graduation rate had risen to 79.3 percent. Standardized test scores in reading, writing, math and science were stagnant.

The letter, dated March 12, is only four paragraphs. Gelbrich goes on to thank school and community leaders who “understand that we are capable of stronger, more systemic practice.”

The Juneau School District released the letter on Friday. It was part of the packet for Tuesday’s school board meeting. The news broke two weeks ago.

Gelbrich writes that he does not have another job lined up, but that he must move on “for personal and private reasons.” He has declined discussing his resignation. In a board memo, Gelbrich estimates finding a new superintendent is likely to cost $30,000 or more.

The Juneau School Board meets Tuesday to approve its budget for the 2014-2015 school year, discuss its evaluation of the outgoing superintendent and formally accept his resignation. The board meets at 6:15 p.m. at Juneau-Douglas High School.

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct which budget the school board is meeting about. It’s the budget for the 2014-2015 school year, not the 2015-2016 school year.)