The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Superintendent contract upheld for now

Board will release Stroh if she is offered employment elsewhere


The board of education voted Monday night to release superintendent from the second half of a two-year contract with the district – if she secures employment outside the district.

Dr. Lisa Stroh, who took the helm of Valdez City Schools last summer, included and action item on Monday’s agenda to “Approve Superintendent Stroh’s Release from Second Year of Contract with Valdez City School District if She is Offered a Position with a Different School District.”

The board of education unanimously voted in favor of the action item after amending it to include an April 14 deadline for Stroh to notify the board whether or not she intends to complete her contract the Valdez district.

Stroh’s name appeared as a candidate and was later short-listed as an applicant for superintendent of the Petersburg school district.

“I know when I came I told Valdez I really thought I’d retire here,” Stroh told the board during discussions on the action item.

Stroh said the board of education’s failure to follow through on a mandated superintendent evaluation in a timely manner contributed to her decision to seek employment outside of Valdez before the end of her contract.

The Petersburg Pilot quoted Stroh as saying in a written statement that “The school board and I have very different perceptions of their role as it comes to governing a school district. Therefore I feel it is best for me to move on.”

During public testimony on non-agenda business earlier in the meeting, Michelle Rogers read a statement from a well distributed letter asking the board to take action of Stroh’s contract immediately.

“I beg you to let her move on now!” the letter reads.

Stroh’s tenure with the district has been marked by high turnover of staff. Dr. Elizabeth Balcerek, principal of Valdez High School, recently announced her resignation effective at the end of this school year. Chris Bennett, principal of Hermon Hutchens Elementary School, also resigned, causing unrest amongst supporters, including school staff and parents of students. Turnover in other departments has caused widespread protest under Stroh’s tenure.

Parent Misty Olson urged the board to retain Stroh, noting there have been both positives and negatives associated with her short tenure.

On March 18, the board of education held an executive session with its attorney, John Sedor, and the president of the Association of Alaska Association of School Boards, Joseph Reeves, to address the deterioration of communications during school board meetings.

“The Board meeting of February 24th proved to be challenging for the Board, individual Board members, the Superintendent and those in attendance. The Board recognizes that advice and counsel regarding the conduct of Board meetings and the role of the Superintendent and Board may be helpful to reestablishing the orderly conduct of meetings and facilitating the business of the Board,” acting president Dawn Farmer said in a mid-March statement.


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