Alaska News

Carol Comeau says goodbye to district

From my first day as a noon duty attendant at Ocean View Elementary School in 1974 to today, as superintendent, I've seen so many wonderful things happen in this district. We made it to the end of another school year and it is with mixed feelings that I say goodbye to a district and career that I have so much enjoyed.

I am continually proud to say that I represent the Anchorage School District because of our outstanding employees who are dedicated to educating all students for success in life. I know that they will continue this excellent work after I retire.

We have been challenged with many issues over the years, but I think we have weathered them well. Unfortunately, because of no ongoing increase to the Base Student Allocation and only some one-time funding at the state level, as well as a small increase in local funding, we had to cut more than $20 million in ongoing positions and programs for the 2012-13 school year. I still remember the two layoff notices I received when I first started working for the district. It's imperative that the state find a way to consistently fund K-12 education at least one year in advance, preferably more.

Alaska districts must have early funding to make the multiyear changes needed to improve student achievement, continue to increase the graduation rate, and meet the changing needs of today's students. I hope this community will continue to urge the Legislature to take action and develop a long-term solution that includes forward-funding of education.

The ASD administration and the Anchorage School Board will continue their push to increase the four-year graduation rate by developing support programs to assist our students; many of these programs are paying off. We also know that if we can do our very best in the early grades, we set our students on a path of success, en route to graduate at the end of 12th grade. I know the district will continue to work towards the goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by the year 2020.

I'm pleased with incoming Superintendent Jim Browder's plan for not only increasing the graduation rate, but increasing academic achievement and attendance levels for all students by the year 2020. I'm impressed with the knowledge and experience he brings to this district and I know many good things are to come.

Our community and school district are changing in many ways, but I am truly inspired by so many of our newest residents who value public education because they know how critical it is to a productive future. All of us learn from working in our increasingly diverse environment and I have great faith that our young people are leading the way in how we interrelate in this diverse community. Our training in social and emotional learning and cultural diversity is paying off; we are transitioning to a school district culture of acceptance and understanding and empowering our students and staff by teaching these important skills.

I want to thank everyone who has played a part in supporting education in this community and who has provided educational support to our students.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my life as I make new memories with my husband, our children and grandchildren. My family has selflessly supported me while I dedicated so much of myself to public education and I'm thrilled that I'll be able to be a bigger part of their day-to-day lives. It has truly been an honor to serve as superintendent for the past 12 school years and I know this community is in excellent hands with Dr. Browder.

Carol Comeau is retiring after 38 years with the Anchorage School District; she has been the superintendent for the last 12 years. Dr. Jim Browder will serve as superintendent starting on July 1.