Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle was actively recruited to apply for the superintendent’s position at Spokane Public Schools, he said Monday.
Now one of two finalists, Apostle will interview April 12 for the job overseeing the 29,275-student district in eastern Washington.
“I was recruited to apply for this position and I thought it over very carefully because I have a great position at Missoula County Public Schools, in a great community. We’ve accomplished a lot, there’s a lot more to do. But I discussed it with my wife and decided to go ahead and apply,” Apostle said.
Apostle notified district leadership and school board members of his finalist selection this weekend.
Missoula school board president Toni Rehbein wasn’t surprised by the news. The board has known for “some time” that Apostle was being heavily recruited by numerous school districts, she said.
“A superintendent in this country can’t make that kind of progress and not get noticed. There is a shortage in this country of outstanding superintendents. He’s had a lot of other districts and headhunters (recruiting him), that’s the reality of having a good person,” Rehbein said.
The amount of support and money Apostle has raised for his initiatives within the Missoula community are testaments to his strength as a leader, Rehbein said.
The list of top candidates for the Spokane job was narrowed to three on Saturday. However, Apostle said, one finalist, Gregory Firn of Wadesboro, N.C., dropped out on Sunday.
According to the Spokane Public Schools’ website, the other finalist, Shelley Redinger, has been the superintendent of Spotsylvania County Schools in Fredericksburg, Va., a district of 23,844 students in grades K-12, for the past year. Redinger has also in the past held several positions in Washington state school districts.
Redinger will interview in Spokane on April 11, the day before Apostle.
“The (Spokane) board will select the new leader as soon as possible after the visits, with the goal of it being no later than the end of April,” a news release on the Spokane district’s website said.
Apostle was hired in 2008 as MCPS superintendent. He is a native of Washington state and received his doctoral degree from the University of Idaho.
Criticized by some for his quick, numerous changes in Missoula schools, Apostle has received nothing but praise from board members and various other education officials.
The Graduation Matters Missoula initiative started by Apostle in 2009 was recently awarded $20,000 in donations from local hospitals. Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau has instituted the Graduation Matters initiative statewide, calling it Graduate Matters Montana. And Apostle has been instrumental in the development of Hellgate’s International Baccalaureate Program and Big Sky’s Health Sciences Academy.
In Missoula, Rehbein said the board will fight to keep Apostle here.
“The community should know the board will do its best to try to keep him here. I don’t know what that will be,” Rehbein said. “In the past we have been so happy with things he’s done. I do know that we’re very committed to him.”
The Missoula school board will meet April 10. Apostle’s status isn’t on the agenda, but could be discussed if brought up by a trustee, Rehbein said.
For now, it’s business as usual for MCPS, said Lesli Brassfield, the district’s director of public affairs.
“He’ll have a number of duties and activities he will stay involved with, he’s still the leader of the district, that’s for sure,” Brassfield said.
Apostle reiterated Monday that no decisions had been made yet.
“I’m currently the superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools and very honored to be so. I have no other position at this time, obviously. I will work diligently with the Missoula community to continue our fine efforts in respect to the initiatives as long as I’m the superintendent of the Missoula County Public Schools,” Apostle said.
Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at email@example.com.