Anchorage School Board won’t renew superintendent’s contract

Anchorage School District Superintendent Ed Graff speaks with reporters. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage)
Anchorage School District Superintendent Ed Graff speaks with reporters. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

The Anchorage School Board will not renew the district superintendent’s contract next year. Ed Graff will stay on until the end of June 2016, and the search for a new superintendent will start immediately.

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School Board President Kameron Perez-Verdia said the board has been discussing Graff’s contract renewal for about five months. It was originally set to expire in March of next year.

“The board’s reason for seeking new leadership is primarily centered around moving forward. And in order to achieve those goals we need to identify a new leader,” Perez-Verdia said during a press conference.

Perez-Verdia would not provide any specifics as to why the board is replacing Graff. He said the board’s decision making process is confidential.

Graff said he knew his contract would end after three years and that it was up to the Board to decide if they wanted to renew it.

“For me, it’s been more important to see the success of students than it is to have the title of superintendent. I remain committed to students. I remain committed to our staff, and public education. And if I can do that in any capacity in our district then I will do that.”

Graff would not provide specific plans for his future, but says he intends to stay with ASD. He began with the district as a teacher 25 years ago.

Alison Arians, with the advocacy group Great Alaska Schools, sees some positive aspects to the change.

“I feel that Superintendent Graff has always been very positive about what’s going on in the district. And he has been a cheerleader for the teachers and the students and the whole district. But, I think we need someone who might be able to help us understand some of the challenges a little better in a more transparent way.”

Perez-Verdia says the Board is working with the Council of the Great City Schools to find a new superintendent. They are still determining what qualities they are looking for, but Perez-Verdia says they want someone who can help the district reach “aggressive goals” like improving graduation and attendance rates and communicate well with the legislature about the district’s needs. The search will include public input.