Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle will not be the next superintendent of the Bellevue School District in Washington state, but that doesn’t mean he won’t pursue other opportunities in the future.
“I love my job here,” Apostle said Wednesday afternoon. “I love the people here and I’m satisfied. But to say that if someone recruited me for a great position, I couldn’t say I wouldn’t be interested in it. That happens to a lot of people. That’s the way the world works.”
Following two hours of discussion Tuesday evening, the Bellevue School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to offer the job to Tim Mills, who has served as superintendent of the North Clackamas School District in Oregon since 2009.
Mills has indicated that he’s excited about coming to Bellevue, but contract negotiations are pending, said Jacque Coe, director of communications for the Bellevue district.
Apostle was one of three finalists for the job. The other finalist was Mark Mitrovich, superintendent of the Naperville Community Unit School District in Illinois since 2009.
It’s the second time in less than two months that Apostle has been a finalist for a superintendent’s job at a larger school district in the Northwest but was not offered the post.
He was one of two finalists for the superintendent’s post in the Spokane School District in April. The board gave the job to Shelley Redinger, former superintendent of a school district in Virginia with an enrollment of 24,000 students.
Bellevue School District serves about 18,000 students in 27 schools. Missoula County Public School District has 8,750 students.
Apostle said he was heavily recruited to apply for the jobs in Spokane and Bellevue, Wash., and that his pursuit of superintendent jobs elsewhere does not stem from any discontent in Missoula. He is not involved in any current job searches.
“I’ve always challenged myself throughout my life,” Apostle said. “Sometimes you have to take risks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That’s the American spirit.”
Several school board trustees have come to terms with the fact that Apostle is sought after.
“This is what happens when you have a world-class leader,” said Toni Rehbein, MCPS trustee chairwoman. “If we had a run-of-the mill superintendent it wouldn’t be issue because no one would be after him.”
“At commencement addresses, we exhort our graduates to dream big,” said Scott Bixler, a school board trustee. “That is what Dr. Apostle has done for MCPS. He has dared us to dream big. To expect anything less from him in his professional life seems to me somewhat hypocritical.”
Other trustees find Apostle’s actions unsettling.
“I feel like the guy in high school whose girl cheated on him twice,” said MCPS Trustee Jim Sadler. “A lot of fences have to be mended. When people say they want to leave, you become a little tentative with them.”
Sadler’s opinion of Apostle’s job performance, however, hasn’t changed.
“Dr. Apostle has done a great service to this district,” he said. “I’m hoping that he’s finally settled down because he’s done a good job.”
Certainly board members are concerned about Apostle leaving. It’s unlikely it’s the last time that Apostle will be recruited for a job in another school district. At this point there’s been no board discussion of trying to retain Apostle by sweetening his pay or benefits. There also has been no discussion about what would happen if Apostle were to leave. Those discussions would only take at the point where Apostle had another job offer in hand, Rehbein said.