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Nome Superintendent Search Narrowed to Four Candidates

Exterior of Nome Elementary School, an off-white building with a smiling polar bear as its mascot.
Exterior of Nome Elementary School, August 22, 2018. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

The Nome School Board is in the process of selecting a new Superintendent, and at Monday’s Executive Session/Special Meeting, they narrowed down the search to four finalists.

Included in the candidates’ pool is Jamie Burgess, who currently serves as the Interim Superintendent, and Director of Federal Programs, Instruction & Accountability of Nome Public Schools.

The three other candidates are Pauline Harvey, Patrick Mayer, and Chris Aguirre. Nome Public Schools issued a press release including short bios of each candidate and their qualifications.

Rayna Neumiller-Hartz was one of the initial 4 finalists announced Monday, but she was removed from the pool when she accepted a position in the Lower Kuskokwim School District on Thursday. NPS offered Aguirre a spot in her place.

Each applicant has served or currently serves as a superintendent or principal somewhere in the state of Alaska. More information on each candidate is available in the press release.

According to the Board, in order to be considered for the superintendent position, it is required that “each applicant either currently hold a Superintendent Endorsement or is able to obtain one.” Based on an initial press release from March 26, there was confusion as to whether Jamie Burgess met that requirement. The next day, the Board issued a correction: Burgess’s application for a Superintendent Endorsement for Alaska was submitted and accepted by the Alaska Department of Education.

Board President Brandy Arrington spoke on why the board considers holding the certification significant.

“Right now, Nome Public Schools really has a need for stability and a strong leader in our district. So we’re hoping to find someone that has had experience.”

A district with frequent leadership turnover, Nome Public Schools is certainly looking for stability. In just 6 years from 2008 to 2014, the district went through 4 different superintendents. Holding the position for the longest in recent history was Shawn Arnold, who resigned late February 2018 after nearly 4 years serving the district. His replacement was Bill Schildbach, whose 2-year contract was terminated early this February by “mutual agreement” with the board.

Arrington was unable to offer an update on the details of Schildbach’s “personal reasons” for leaving NPS and Nome.

“All the information that I was able to relay to the public has been passed on. If any more could be said, that would be up to Bill himself to want to divulge that information as to why he left.”

Schildbach is still a paid employee on contract with NPS until May 4, although he does not currently reside in Nome.

“He is still considered an employee, and if we need to contact him with any questions or help, he is available.”

The 4 finalists in the search for the new superintendent are invited to visit the community of Nome for on-site interviews and “opportunities to meet with students, staff and the community” on April 17-19. Next week, NPS will make a full schedule of their visit available, including the date for a community “candidate forum.”

The board will conduct final interviews and deliberations on Friday, April 19, and they say a decision will be made shortly afterwards. The new Superintendent is projected to start by July 1, 2019.

Image at top: file photo: Exterior of Nome Elementary School, August 2018. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

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