Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 3:57 PM on Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Atwater staying put at KPBSD

By Logan Tuttle
Morris News Service — Alaska

Dr. Steve Atwater, superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, will remain the superintendent. Atwater was a finalist for the same position with the Anchorage School District.

The announcement by ASD came Tuesday that they have selected Jim Browder, originally from Florida, as their next superintendent.

More than 150 applications were received for the position, before ASD narrowed it to two finalists — Atwater and Browder — in December.

Atwater said in December he had to take the chance to apply for the job, as it was the only other job in the state of Alaska he was attracted to.

"It's really the only superintendency in Alaska that's interesting to me — it's the only place that would attract me," he said.

Atwater said Tuesday he was honored to be chosen as a finalist.

"I was honored to be chosen as a finalist and appreciate our school board, employees, and community support through this time," Atwater said. "I offer my congratulations to Dr. Browder, and appreciate the Anchorage School Board selecting me as a finalist. I look forward to continuing the good work that we are doing to give our students here on the Kenai a world class education."

Liz Downing, a KPBSD board member who represents schools within the city of Homer, said she was "thrilled" that Atwater would be staying on the peninsula.

"It may be Anchorage's loss, but if they have a good new superintendent up there, it's great for all of Southcentral Alaska," said Downing, who counted Atwater's "great vision for education" as one of his contributions to KPBSD.

"He has taken a look at improving the curriculum so that we don't have issues of students learning different things in different schools around the district and then being left behind," she said of the consistency resulting from Atwater's leadership. "He's ahead of the curve in terms of teacher evaluations, making them meaningful and useful for teachers and administrators, and focusing on genuinely improving professional development and collaboration."

Sunni Hilts of Seldovia, a board member who represents other schools on the southern peninsula, credited Atwater for heading KPBSD "in the direction of a world-class school district, if we're not there already."

"He has instituted some changes and set us in a direction that I think he's really the best person to take us in," said Hilts, adding, "To be in the top two of 150 candidates, I'm proud of him."

Logan Tuttle is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. Homer News reporter McKibben Jackinsky also contributed to this story.