Missoula school trustees to review Superintendent Apostle

2014-01-29T05:30:00Z 2014-01-29T13:15:22Z Missoula school trustees to review Superintendent Apostle missoulian.com

The Missoula County Public Schools Board of Trustees will meet in executive session later this week to review the performance of the district’s superintendent – the highest paid public school administrator in the state.

Trustees say Thursday’s meeting will be closed to the public, citing state law that keeps the performance review of public employees private, including Superintendent Alex Apostle.

“Every employee of the district gets an evaluation and they’re held confidential between the district and the employee,” said Joseph Knapp Jr., chairman of the board. “By law – not by my choice – this is a confidential review and I can’t release it to the public. If I do that, the district would be liable.”

Trustees last year amended and extended its contract with Apostle. In doing so, they increased his salary by 13 percent, from $155,000 to $175,000 a year.

That contract, which remains in place, came with another salary increase to $200,000 in 2014. Apostle’s current contract with the district is set to sunset in June 2016.

Trustees will have four options, then, at Thursday’s meeting.

“His contract will play out unless we intend to extend it, alter it or terminate it, and I’ve got no wind of anyone doing any of those things,” said Knapp. “There will be no vote at the meeting if there’s no change to the contract.”

Last year, the board’s approval of Apostle’s contract, and attendant pay increase, ignited a public firestorm. Trustees were blasted by teachers, staff, students and taxpayers, who voiced frustration over the raise, and the process through which it was offered.

Several trustees were voted off the board as a result. Because Apostle’s contract was signed last year, trustees said the raise couldn’t be reversed.

They also said the latest performance review wouldn’t be released to the public.

“We have legal constraints on what we can and can’t do,” Knapp said. “One could make the argument that the public has the right to know, and I appreciate that. But we’re constrained by law when it comes to (Apostle’s) performance.”

Mike Meloy, an attorney who runs the Montana Freedom of Information Hotline, agreed that state law allows trustees to close performance reviews and keep Apostle’s review confidential.

Meloy cited several cases in which Montana newspapers have attempted to challenge the law, including the Missoulian v. Board of Regents. In that case, Meloy said, the Missoulian asked for the performance evaluations and sought to attend the interviews of new University of Montana presidents.

“The court ruled against the paper and reasoned that since the regents would be discussing performance issues, privacy would clearly outweigh public disclosure,” Meloy said. “In my view, the decision is wrong-headed.”

In a separate case filed more recently, Billings Gazette v. City of Billings, the court also ruled against the newspaper.

In that case, the court concluded that the status of the public employee shouldn’t reduce his or her right to privacy.

“In any event, under present state law, they can close the meeting,” Meloy said.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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(14) Comments

  1. gvanhoose
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    gvanhoose - January 29, 2014 9:28 pm
    Unfortunately he has a contract which locks the people of Missoula into a paying the exorbitant amount of money to him. But during the last year of his contract the people of Missoula need to start lobbying to get rid of him and his high salary.
  2. Payin'Taxes-Gettin'Hosed
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    Payin'Taxes-Gettin'Hosed - January 29, 2014 6:07 pm
    Ever since the new Communications Director came on board, Apostle has been curiously out of the spotlight. Did he hire an image consultant?

    Nah, ya can't fix stupid.
  3. Gustave
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    Gustave - January 29, 2014 4:51 pm
    I hear that the current teacher evaluation process was being developed by administration and teachers before Apostle came to Missoula and that Apostle took all the credit for it.
  4. MobyMike
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    MobyMike - January 29, 2014 4:18 pm
    Hi Jeanne! I had to go back and read the old minutes from years past to remember your name, But I saw you on the MCAT broadcast of the old Board meetings! Would LOVE to see how you came up with your figures! $500K to $700K per YEAR!! WOW! Unbelievable! (probably because patently false) Prescott school is WAY too old and small to be worth anything.
  5. Mountie
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    Mountie - January 29, 2014 3:54 pm
    Since the "superstar" Apostle is already one year into his current three year contract, he should be rewarded with the agreed upon raise to $200,000/yr and renegotiate another three year extension that will guarantee him up to $350,000/yr by the end of the contract. Of course there will also be increases to the district’s contribution to Apostle’s tax-sheltered annuity and continue to allow him to cash in unused vacation and personal days (which will be plenty since all the work will be done by all the extra administrators who now work for the district and thus everyday for "superstar" is like a vacation day). Teachers and support personnel will gladly take a cut in pay to finance this wonderful leader and let's not rule out a huge property tax increase for all to assure that this person does not leave us for greener pastures.
  6. NoturAverageBear
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    NoturAverageBear - January 29, 2014 1:48 pm
    WTF is wrong with you people?

    It is our God given duty in this life to provide the rich with more and more profits, it is why we exist, no matter what sacrifices we may have to make in our lives to provide the rich with whatever financial gains they wish to amass! We produce children and raise and educate them not for love, but to provide profits for the God chosen rich man!

    Our children do not need a good education in this life, they our in school to provide Mr. Apostle and the rich people like him with more and more profits....this is why we exist, TO SERVE THE RICH THEIR GOD GIVEN PROFITS!!!!

    BE A PROUD SERF!!!!!!!
    Serve with pride, and worship the Gods that appointed us this duty!

    And if you serve well, maybe in the next life you will be the lucky one to be chosen as rich man....maybe!
  7. reality check 4 you
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    reality check 4 you - January 29, 2014 9:50 am

    Just another waste of time, a formality! Everything behind closed doors, nothing will change except Apostle will get a riase. Doesn't matter what his job performance is. Just go down the valley and look into the disgrace of John C. McGee, you know him as the 5 time serial plagiarists whom not only wasn't terminated, but thanks to the moronic and in debt majority of trustees received for his liar, his poor performance, his plagiarism a 3 year extension and a raise. Yes, crime pays here in Montana!
  8. independent
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    independent - January 29, 2014 9:33 am
    Graduation Matters - Education Not So Much!!!!!!

    I don't see how a prior School Board can restrict or dictate what future School Boards can do. I say give him a salary cut to bring him in line with his peers in the state.
  9. Scott Bixler
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    Scott Bixler - January 29, 2014 8:57 am
    You are spot on MobyMike. But you did forget to mention that under Dr. Apostle, every employee’s performance (Teachers and Classified alike) is evaluated by their supervisor every year; a process that was sadly lacking in this District until Dr. Apostle implemented mandatory reviews.
  10. John P Weber
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    John P Weber - January 29, 2014 8:38 am
    . While public employee’s do have a right to keep their evaluations private, just has some of us in the private sector do, there are some public employees who should not be allowed to keep their evaluations private, such as the school superintendent , city council members, the mayor and all city department heads. We the taxpayers and has the employer of these people also have a right to know how they are doing their job and if we need to make any changes. The school board trustee’s have proven they care nothing about disclosure. The only information in a public employee’s evaluation that should by law be required to be disclosed to the public is anything the public employee has fallen short on. Another way to do right is to disclose all disciplinary action taken and why. State law should not keep everything private for public employee’s, including all elected officials. Personally, I get an evaluation every August and I am not afraid of disclosing how my employer in the private sector rated me, the same should be in the public sector. For the record last year I was rated a solid performer in 5 of 6 categories at work. Everyone always has room for improvement, but I have yet to see the School superintendent do anything that warrants such outrageous pay.
  11. Roger
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    Roger - January 29, 2014 7:52 am
    Wow! - A $20,000 raise in 2013, and a $25,000 raise in 2014 That bunch of lackeys must enjoy throwing money at the guy.
  12. prescottschool_since1893
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    prescottschool_since1893 - January 29, 2014 7:23 am
    I agree with middle finger and also with the analogy of his blog name especially if it is aimed at the administrative and business buildings of MCPS.

    After what people had gone through under the "leadership" or should I say corruption of Superintendent Clark us Missoulians were hoping for a reprieve from Clark's "leadership" philosophy.

    No - what we got with Superintendent Apostle was the same "leadership" philosophy.

    This philosophy was and is "harm the public school students by closing schools and then leasing them to private schools. And after this is accomplished one sends hundreds of public school students to other crowded schools, builds expensive additions, build expensive modulars, and spend thousands on renovations and other totally irresponsible actions in facility planning.

    On top of this these two superintendents must have two of the biggest egos in the district as they think it is perfectly acceptable for them to get obscene salaries even though the community adamantly protests against these salaries.

    Both of these men decided to ignore the dangers of leasing a public school to a private school or selling a public school to a private school in Clark’s case. The key word applicable to this issue and which most people understand but has escaped the minds of these two men is COMPETITION!

    In the case of leasing Prescott School to Missoula International School the district is losing approximately $500,000 - $700,000 PER YEAR! An email written by a math professor before the last lease extension explained this loss to the Board and to Superintendent Apostle. THIS INFORMATION WAS IGNORED AND NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY BY APOSTLE AND BOARD MEMBERS. The Board members voting for the lease extension were Joseph Knapp, Shelly Wills, Michael Smith, and Scott Bixler. All of these trustees and the superintendent were placing private schools over MCPS schools!

    The two schools which have taken advantage of disloyal and irresponsible trustees and superintendents, St. Josephs School and Missoula International School, are at this time taking to the air waves and the newspapers advertising their wonderful schools to the greater Missoula area. These schools are now and have been since getting their new public school gigs, are attempting to pull MCPS students from public schools to attend their private schools!! And - they have been very successful - MIS's enrollment was 33 and is now 186 or more!! In the 9 years since the beginning of MIS the enrollment increased to only 33 students. Leasing Prescott School has enabled MIS enrollment to skyrocket at the expense of MCPS. St. Joseph’s enrollment has also increased since acquiring Roosevelt.

    Both men, Superintendent Jim Clark and Superintendent Alex Apostle get F- !!! And so do the many disloyal Trustees!

    There have been some loyal Trustees and have spoken against the leases and the selling of our public schools to private schools. I thank them. I would appreciate the new trustees joining these trustees so that we can begin to steer this district in the right direction.

  13. MobyMike
    Report Abuse
    MobyMike - January 29, 2014 7:04 am
    MF-> "what it really needs in a superintendent"
    Exactly what would that be? Someone who DOESN'T increase graduation rates? someone who DOESN'T increase success rates in ALL grades on MAPS and other standard testing? Someone who DOESN'T push to get his teachers the HIGHEST RAISES IN THE STATE the last 3 years? Somone who is satisfied with the 100-year old status quo of mediocrity or someone who brings relevant challenging programs to boost students' success after school?

    I doubt you have kids or care about how to make Missoula a better place to live.
  14. MiddleFinger
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    MiddleFinger - January 28, 2014 9:20 pm

    Alex who?

    Seems that the supt. disappeared after getting mad at Missoula about something or other. He is rarely seen in public, and flies under the radar while others do the heavy lifting. For $200k, I'd expect him and his policies to be in the news daily.

    Oh well, now there a chance for the truth to be told about his performance. Hopefully Missoula can move on and get what it really needs in a superintendent. Not someone who us using us as noting but a stepping stone to somewhere else. Anywhere else.

    Do the right thing School Board. Be honest. The rest will follow.

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