We appreciate all of your condolences, donations and support as our family has mourned and celebrated the life of Dr. Kenneth Stephen Burnley. He was a great husband, father, grand-father, friend and community leader. It warms us to know that many of you loved and respected him as well. Your support was incredible and a blessing.
The Burnley Family
July 23, 2011
Dr. Kenneth Stephen Burnley, 69, Superintendent, Mat-Su Borough School District, born April 20, 1942, died July 2, 2011 at Alaska Regional Medical Center, of complications from double knee replacement surgery.
He was baptized at an early age and received his Christian education at Ebenezer AME (Detroit, MI) under Reverend Hubert Robinson.
Dr. Burnley received three higher education degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He served education in various capacities, as a teacher, assistant principal, director, assistant superintendent and superintendent. He served as a Senior Resident Fellow, University of Michigan; Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Public Schools; Superintendent, School District 11 Colorado Springs, CO; Superintendent, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Fairbanks, Alaska; and other professional education positions for the Waverly Public Schools, Ypsilanti Public Schools and Muskegon Heights School District.
Within five months of his appointment as Superintendent, Mat Su Borough School District, Dr. Burnley settled 2 major labor contracts and developed a plan to resolve an $8.9 M deficit. He convinced the state legislature to award $6 M for E-Rate (Funding commonly used for Schools and Libraries) and gained an additional $10.2 M of federal matching funds for a total of $16.2 M for fiber optics to the School District, which also provides high speed communication to the community and jobs through Matanuska Telephone Association (MTA).
Dr. Burnley reached national acclaim as the recipient of the 1993 Colorado and National Superintendent of the Year Awards from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). In addition, he was recognized by various organizations for his leadership and humanitarian efforts.
Some of the highlights of his career were being a member of the US Secretary of Educations' Advisory Committee on Administrative Regulations prior to the implementation of the 2002 "No Child Left Behind Act"; and being a member of the US delegations of Superintendents to Israel, China and Taiwan. He had the gift of uniting people together with in the community.
Along with education, he had a great passion for sports including golf, track and field, and University of Michigan Football. In his college career Dr. Burnley was a relay member of three indoor and two outdoor Big Ten Track Championships 1960-1964; he was the first African American Coach at the University of Michigan 1968-1972; Chair, Education Committee, US Olympic Committee (USOC) 1996-1999; Chef de Mission to the World Youth Games in Moscow, Russia representing the United States Olympic Committee; Member, US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for, but independent of, United States Olympic Committee 2006-2007.
Prior to going into surgery, he stated "I came here (Alaska) for the kids." He wanted the best for the students. He desired to have the model school district for the state to show what can be achieved for our youth. When times got tough, he would go into the schools and spend time with the kids. It rejuvenated him and made him work harder to achieve success. As he reflected on his career, the common thread through all of his positions included placing women, minorities and those experiencing disabilities in key positions in his administrations. He was proud of their accomplishments and often voiced his praise.
Dr. Burnley was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Kippling Burnley; mother, Audrey Marietta Stevens Burnley; brother, Bryan Burnley; and nephew Damian Burnley.
Survivors include wife, Eileen Burnley; brothers, Michael and Dennis Burnley (wife Brenda); Daughter, Traci Burnley; son, Trevor Burnley (wife Robin), Marlon Thomas (wife Shawn); three grandchildren Jonathan Burnley, Tyler Burnley and Justin Thomas; and many nieces, nephews, and friends through out the world. Dr. Burnley loved and supported his family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Dr. Kenneth Stephen Burnley Memorial Fund, for college and vocational education scholarships, for students of Mat-Su Borough School District, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Detroit Public Schools and Colorado Springs School District 11. Donations may be made at any Wells Fargo Bank in the United States.