780 AM | 96.1 FM | “Yours for Western Alaska”

Nome-Beltz Principal Resigns for Personal Reasons

Chip Sharpe goes seining at Educator Cultural Camp in July. His last day as principal will be Jan. 15. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

The principal at Nome-Beltz has resigned for personal reasons after about six months on the job. Edwin “Chip” Sharpe’s last day as head of the high school will be Jan. 15.

“Unfortunately, one of his family members is going through some health issues that he needs to tend to,” said Superintendent Shawn Arnold. “And he’ll be returning back to Utah with them to make sure they’re taken care of.”

Arnold said the district has already begun searching for a new principal and will consider outside applicants as well as candidates within Nome Public Schools.

With the entire state short on qualified administrators, though, he said there may not be many applicants right away — especially midway through the school year.

“But we’re confident that we’ll find somebody that’s the right fit and plans to stay with the school for a while,” said Arnold.

Finding someone who will stay is particularly important to the district, given recent instability in the position.

“It’s been about six principals in the last seven years,” said Arnold. “There is a concern about turnover here.”

While Sharpe’s departure comes down to family matters, Arnold said compensation is often part of the problem.

Nome Public Schools isn’t as competitive as many other rural districts, just basically because of the funding mechanism,” he said. “We depend on our local municipality. We don’t get as much funding from the state. So we can’t often compete against other rural districts, because they can offer higher salaries or greater benefits.”

Arnold said the district is working to make more competitive offers and cut down on turnover in the long-term.

For right now, though, he said it’s unclear whether or not Nome-Beltz will have a new principal this school year. If hiring from outside, the district may have to wait for Sharpe’s replacement to finish the spring semester elsewhere and start in the fall.

In the meantime, administrative duties at Nome-Beltz will fall to Beth Sandefur — the current assistant principal — and John Berkeley, the district’s director of federal programs and instruction.


  1. […] Public Schools has named John Berkeley interim principal at Nome-Beltz Jr/Sr High after Edwin “Chip” Sharpe resigned last month. Originally from Idaho, Sharpe was on the job for less than a year. And at a school board meeting […]

  2. […] said the district is increasing the salary of John Berkeley, who was named interim principal after Sharpe resigned in December for family health […]