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.