Ed Lippert will become the superintendent of Yellowknife’s YK1 school district for the next academic year, taking over from Metro Huculak.
Lippert will serve a one-year term after the search for a permanent successor to Huculak was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
YK1 was unable to hold in-person meetings with candidates for the job, Lippert said, so he will step in while the process of identifying a longer-term superintendent is pushed back by a year.
“It seems like a crazy time to be taking over with all the pandemic issues we have, school reopening plans, a new school building, and tearing down the old one,” said Lippert, referring to the imminent demolition of École JH Sissons.
“There are a lot of really challenging things, but we do have a great team here.”
Lippert already has some experience leading the district. As assistant, he temporarily took over last year as Huculak spent time on medical leave.
“He knows that number one is going to be the safety of students and staff – that’s paramount – and our students are well-equipped,” Huculak said.
“I’ve got him on speed dial,” Lippert joked of Huculak, who is retiring after 15 years in the role.
‘A very important job’
YK1 had initially expected to interview a range of candidates to succeed Huculak, from both within the territory and elsewhere in Canada.
However, the chief public health officer is understood to have refused permission for candidates to receive exemptions in order to visit the Northwest Territories and meet district staff and board members in person.
“Because it’s a very important job and they’re looking for somebody longer-term, they wanted to have an in-person meeting with each potential candidate and that was just impossible,” said Lippert.
“They submitted plans [to the chief public health officer] but it was just impossible for them to do that.
“In order to be fair to everyone, they decided to postpone the competition for a year because they didn’t want to have to bring somebody in during the middle of the school year.”
The post is expected to be re-advertised once the forthcoming academic year begins.
Lippert has been involved in education for more than three decades, YK1 said in a news release, including time as a teacher in Inuvik and Yellowknife.
He later became a department head, assistant principal, and principal at Sir John Franklin High School, and has been YK1’s assistant superintendent since 2015.