Alex Apostle

Alex Apostle

KURT WILSON, Missoulian

Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle's contract was continued under current terms by school board trustees during their regular meeting Tuesday night.

Trustees unanimously made the decision Apostle will continue to make $200,000 over the 2015-16 school year, after a two-hour special board session to complete his annual evaluation earlier the same evening.

"I think he's compensated well for what he's doing," said Jim Sadler, the trustee who moved to continue the contract under current terms.

Apostle is doing a good job, Sadler added.

The contract expires June 30, 2016, but Apostle was mum on future plans, saying he is happy in the district and that he is looking forward to continuing work.

What happens during next year's contract decision is up in the air, school board chairman Joseph Knapp Jr. said.

Apostle has lead the district through numerous changes and is a successful leader, Knapp said.

Legally, there would have been ramifications for lowering Apostle's salary, but Knapp said public opinion was clear after a series of pay raises were approved in 2013 that set off an uproar.

"I think that there's an understanding that there's a true sensitivity of what's being asked of our community," he said.

Originally Apostle's evaluation and vote on any contract changes was planned for January, but was postponed due to a lengthy meeting.

Tuesday's evaluation was held in executive session without public admitted, a choice made by Apostle and allowed for in state law.

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Trustees also passed on taking a vote to expend roughly $52,000 on planning for demonstration projects that would be funded through a state Quality Schools grant.

The money would have set the district up to start project work during the summer construction season, but if the grant does not pass, the district will not receive any funding for the project through the state.

The Quality Schools grant MCPS applied for was originally proposed as part of $30 million in projects proposed by Gov. Steve Bullock, which would have required bonding to complete. Discussion at the Montana Legislature seems to be more focused on tax relief, said Pat McHugh, executive director of business and operations for the district.

"So hardly a look at how do we fund and incur debt to secure some of these capital projects," McHugh said.

"We've come to a point because of the information that we have received that we just need to think this through very carefully before we proceed," Apostle said.

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