Missoula needs to vote in new school board that will listen, send message on levies

2013-05-01T09:59:00Z Missoula needs to vote in new school board that will listen, send message on leviesONLINE-ONLY letter to the editor missoulian.com
May 01, 2013 9:59 am  • 

On May 7 you have a chance to change the makeup of the Missoula County Public Schools board. Let us take a look at some of the moves this present board and Superintendent Alex Apostle have made.

They offered and he signed a contract that will pay him increases through 2015 plus a monthly payment of $1,875 to his TSA for a total of $22,500 a year and assorted other goodies. Let’s look at the totals: 2013 salary of $175,000 plus TSA for a total of $197,500; 2014 salary of $185,000 plus TSA for a total of $207,500; 2015 salary of $200,000 plus TSA for a total of $222,500. If you want the full story on his contract, contact MCPS for a copy.

Three regional directors were added to Apostle’s administration; each with salary of $107,105 for a total of $323,115. I did a search of the Northwest looking for similar size districts with these positions and did not find any. What I found was: Seattle public with an enrollment of 45,000 had five, Portland with an enrollment of 47,000 had five, and LA public with an enrollment of 640,000 had five. MCPS has an enrollment of 8,466 with three.

I retired from MCPS in 2006 and the makeup of the administration during my years teaching was the same, minus the directors. Plus there were more students and schools during my tenure. Why then is there a need for three for MCPS?

They have added a number of programs that take money from other areas, such as class size, school supplies, teacher supplies, books, technology, etc. that were talked about in the public meetings. This nation is still in a recession, but I guess not in Missoula. Costly programs like the International Baccalaureate with its own full-time coordinator, and the Big Sky Academy all have merit, but not in these economic times. This program money, Apostle’s raise and the money paid to the directors would go a long way in taking care of these basic needs that benefit all students and staff. When better economic times return, then look into these programs. Districts around Missoula are cutting teachers and closing schools, so could we be next?

I know that the morale of the staff is at an all-time low, as I still have a number of teacher friends and two children teaching in MCPS. However, this leadership does not get it. Apostle’s raise, larger work loads without compensation, larger class size, new programs, a shortage of supplies and books, and Apostle’s bullying do nothing to improve morale.

Apostle said in a 2012 article that he has no plans to leave until the job done. Last summer be showed his loyalty to MCPS by applying for two jobs in Washington. The board’s response: a raise.

As voters, we can vote to get a new board that will hopefully listen to the other side, students and staff to make MCPS a better place for all. A vote for Julie Tompkins, Michael Beers, Diane Lorenzen, Ann Wake and Rose Dickson will be a step in the right direction. A “no” vote on the technology levy issue is the only other way to send a message to Apostle that all is not right. This is a tough choice that we as voters will have to make.

David Dayton,


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(7) Comments

  1. familytruckster
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    familytruckster - May 03, 2013 10:14 am
    I know where he is during the day...I ran into him at the Mercedes dealer in town. For real.
  2. smj
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    smj - May 03, 2013 8:21 am
    During my years in MCPS, Director of Business, Director of Operations and Maintenance, Director of Human Resources and Curriculum Coordinator were in place but their titles in some cases were different and they are still there today. Also the Assistant Supt had other duties. The Superintendent's block was not as large as it is now. So why are there not more districts of 8000 students with directors?

    As for the audit, what did they define as Administration? Did they include all positions in the Administrative Contacts directory, each schools adm. positions and coordinators of programs like IB?

    I also read the job description of these 3 and it made me wonder what he does all day and last years article in the paper gave me the answer, meetings. Dave
  3. Cato
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    Cato - May 03, 2013 7:30 am
    schoolcorruption: "...a liaison person for the Missoula Education Foundation (which is made up of unpopular former Board members and a despised superintendent) earns approximately $30,000 (probably more), and most likely other salaries of which the public may not be aware...".
    Who dreams up these "positions?"

    What do these people do all day long?

    Now, there's something the "Missoulian" could report on.
  4. rndayton
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    rndayton - May 03, 2013 6:59 am
    I am a teacher, I have 29 students 3rd graders, with a part time teacher. Are you kidding me? If anyone wants to make comments about our education system, come in to our classrooms, see what we do everyday. It's so challenging to engage 29 students, we could have paid for another full time teacher with all the money that is being wasted in this district. The 3 regional directors as well as Mr. Apostle are so far removed. He came to our school to give a PowerPoint presentation, I'm not sure what the purpose was, but he obviously did not make the PowerPoint as he freely made comments along the lines of, "Wow, I didn't know that". Um, what is your job again? I'm curious to know what Mr. Apostle does with 3 regional directors, whom I rarely see at our school, working underneath him.
    This will be my last year as a teacher because of requirements, testing pressures, class sizes, etc. I can see where education is going, and it is bleak and I'm getting out now. I thought I would be teaching, making a difference but that's only half my job. If you want more information on this, contact a teacher. Teaching is no longer about our students, it's a business, and for Mr. Apostle is about looking good while everyone underneath him (teachers, principals, para educators, custodians, lunch help, etc.) are doing the real work.
  5. Scott Bixler
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    Scott Bixler - May 02, 2013 3:37 pm
    Dear Mr. Dayton,

    Thank you for your interest in Missoula County Public Schools. I feel it is incumbent upon me to point out a few misconceptions you seem to have concerning the administrative makeup of MCPS. Several years ago the District reorganized it upper management by eliminating the assistant superintendent, special education director and several administrative staff positions and assigning new duties to 3 Executive Regional Directors (ERD’s) these positions replaced existing positions they are NOT new positions.

    If you don’t believe my version please see the recent audit conducted by the independent auditing firm of Anderson Zurmuehlen & Co. In that report you will find that MCPS as well as 4 other AA Districts has a General Administration expense of 8%. Bozeman has 11%. Please feel free to contact MCPS for any further information you would like. Scott
  6. GracelessAge
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    GracelessAge - May 02, 2013 9:09 am
    Those darn kids don't need no learning! New fangled iders in their heads jist make trouble! Boys belong in the fields and girls belong barefoot, in the kitchen, with all the younguns. Those blasted rich folk earning more then they're worth. Good payin' jobs belong in the big city. None of that here! We have our pride and the food bank and medicaid. But we don't want no SOCIALIST (whatever that critter is) around here. I would jaw more, but I have ta go to outhouse in back yard - who has an old Sears catalog, I am runnin' short on my one from 1923.
  7. schoolcorruption
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    schoolcorruption - May 02, 2013 7:05 am
    Thanks David for your letter. The salary information is great - I knew the regional directors were earning quite a bit but I had no idea they were over the $100,000 mark – WOW! And the superintendent's salary is way out of line, of course.
    When attending school board meetings a few years ago - I heard the business director state that the salary and benefits portion of the budget needs to be in the 80% range. Now S & B's are 90% of the budget, no doubt due to the salaries you have laid out for us. Additionally, over the last couple of years I’ve also noticed that there was another administrator added to the staff at the Dickinson Adult Learning Center at I’m guessing $80,000, the out-of-the-blue raise for the public relations person, Leslie Brassfield, adds an extra $10,000 (which came out of the stimulus money last year), a liaison person for the Missoula Education Foundation (which is made up of unpopular former Board members and a despised superintendent) earns approximatley $30,000 (probably more), and most likely other salaries of which the public may not be aware.

    I am not voting for the levy nor is anyone in my family.

    When Superintendent Apostle first arrived he stated he was going to make Missoula the best school district in the nation. I was skeptical of his claim as what needed to be done to fix the mess left by his predecessor(s) with the district was not in his list of things to do.

    Instead it appears that his plans were to join other school districts across the nation and completely change our schools with the 21st Century model of education. This 21st Century model as it turns out is a international curriculum which has many troubling aspects. From what I understand it is more of a European model of education which has proved to be flawed in many respects. So in order to transform a school district he had to hire the regional directors.

    And this is where the technology levy comes in - in the 21st Century model there is an extremely heavy emphasis on technology. That is why the district wishes to increase wireless capability in all of our schools so that there is enough band width for all of our students to use computers, laptops, interactive whiteboards, iPods, etc. Yet it is my belief and that of others that all this technology is NOT really in the best interests of our children.

    We hear about the ways that students get into trouble using these gadgets almost on a daily basis - some students have been caught cheating on tests using their cell phones, a large portion of our children are getting on inappropriate websites, children go to ESPN while they are supposed to be researching a project (true story), etc. etc.

    Thanks again David for your very enlightening letter.

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