Sunday, May 19, 2013
Anchorage Superintendent Announces Retirement
Carol Comeau says she will retire next June
ANCHORAGE—Carol Comeau began her education career with the Anchorage School District as a playground monitor in 1974—when pocket calculators were being sold in stores and the big topic in social studies classrooms was President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
Over the next four decades, she wore several different hats: as the president of the teachers’ union, worked as an elementary intern, a tutor, principal, interim superintendent, then superintendent of the largest school district in Alaska.
“It's not the normal way you start as superintendent,” Comeau said.
But after 37 years with ASD, Comeau made an emotional announcement Tuesday: she's turning the page.
“It's my intention to retire next June 30, 2012,” Comeau said at a news conference at district headquarters.
After 11 years, Comeau is one of the district’s longest serving superintendents, but her heart, she says, has always been in the classroom.
“I went into education because I hoped to make a difference for kids,” Comeau said. “And I think I have.”
In the past 40 years, Comeau says the district, and the city itself, have changed.
“When I started in 1974 I think the minority student population was about 24 percent,” Comeau said. “It's now 53 percent.”
The school board is now tasked with the daunting challenge of finding Comeau's replacement.
“Nobody's talking about money but Carol has refused salary increases for the last several years,” said Don Smith, an Anchorage School Board member. “There's at least four or five superintendents in Alaska that are paid more money than her. If you try to bring in someone from out of state you can be talking double the salary she makes.”
But being thrifty is just one of Comeau's irreplaceable traits.
“She is such a strong advocate for every child,” said Jeannie Mackie, also a school board member. “That truly is in her heart.”
“I am emotional but I'm really actually looking forward to the next chapter,” said Comeau, who will soon go from caring for thousands of children to just five as she tries on a new hat: grandmother.