by Pam Zubeck
Former Colorado Springs School District 11 superintendent Kenneth Burnley has been hired as superintendent of Mat-Su schools in Alaska, according to the Frontiersman newspaper in Wasilla, former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's stomping grounds.
Burnley ran the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District before coming to Colorado Springs and D-11 in the late 1980s. In 1993, he was named national superintendent of the year by the American Association of School Administrators.
Burnley resigned his $111,641-a-year job at D-11 in 2000 after 13 years here to take a job with Detroit Public Schools. There, he at first was hailed as an innovator, but later drew criticism when investigations revealed questionable spending by his staff, including an aide who used district money to get married in Las Vegas and another who pinched the district for porn movies while traveling on district business. Burnley also ran into criticism for falling enrollments even as more teachers were hired.
He left that job, which paid roughly $250,000 a year, in 2005 and went to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as a senior fellow. In 2008, he was a finalist in the Eastern Michigan University presidential search.
A contract has yet to be signed in Alaska, but is expected soon, the newspaper reported.
According to its website, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District is located approximately 35 miles north of Anchorage in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in an area commonly known as the “Valley.” The district spans approximately 25,000 square miles, and is home to 43 schools ranging in enrollments from 12 to more than 1,200 students. With a district-wide enrollment of approximately 16,470 students, Mat-Su is the second largest school district in Alaska behind Anchorage and includes the Wasilla area.