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Mat-Su Borough School Board names new superintendent after unanimous approval

(KTUU)
Published: May. 12, 2020 at 7:26 PM AKDT
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The Mat-Su Borough School District School Board has unanimously approved candidate Randy Trani as the next superintendent. The vote was conducted during a special meeting on Tuesday that followed a short period of public testimony.

The instating of Trani as superintendent will be made official following contract negotiations, which will also come before the board.

Trani, who grew up in Cordova, taught in Alaskan school districts before moving to Oregon and becoming the superintendent of Corbett Schools in 2009.

"You need to decide what's best for our top kids is best for all kids, set your goals extremely high and then bring in the supports to help all the students reach those goals," Trani said in a Q&A posted to the Mat-Su Borough School District website. "That requires embracing a continuous progress model, where you meet students where they are and you move them forward."

During the meeting, board members praised Trani's dedication to students and employees, and his philosophy on setting high goals he calls "absurd aspirations."

"He wants to help the state that he came from," said School Board Member Kelsey Trimmer, "and he has the qualifications to do that."

Just four members of the public testified at the meeting. Most of them said positive things about Trani but criticized the transparency and timeliness of the board's process in selecting and approving a candidate for the position.

"The superintendent search timelines promised a public forum during April 27," Mat-Su Education Association President Dianne Shibe testified at the meeting," and that is still posted on the website this evening, but that did not happen. Instead, we got notice that a candidate hire would be voted on in four days. I'm concerned that a pattern is being set by the board that is thwarting public input."

Shibe cited "an abrupt removal" of five important books and resources by The New York Times from a literature list the board hasn't yet voted on rescinding as evidence that public input is being hampered.

Another caller testified saying, "I haven't been able to read both of his books yet to learn more about the details of his educational philosophy, as I just learned about him a few days ago. But I'm sure almost no one on the school board has read them either. Mr. Trani will soon discover that most of the board members are apparently not into reading potentially objectionable books."

Trani was one of over a dozen candidates identified in a national search by executive leadership search firm Ray and Associates, Inc. as qualified for the position of superintendent. An undisclosed number of those applicants withdrew their applications due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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