The superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools announced his resignation on Friday, one month after trustees continued his $200,000 annual contract, and eight months before voters consider a $158 million school bond.
Alex Apostle made the surprise announcement to trustees, staff, parents and students after accepting a job as superintendent of Shelton Public Schools in Shelton, Washington.
Apostle said he was very appreciative to have served MCPS for the past seven years.
“I believe that together we have done some amazing things,” he said. “I’ve taken the district to the point where it’s ready for someone else to take it from here,” he said.
He thanked the teachers, staff, business community and parents for their work during his tenure.
“We never failed a levy,” Apostle said. “The Missoula community was generous and supportive.”
Shelton Public Schools announced Apostle’s hiring on its website, saying he would replace superintendent Art Jarvis on July 1.
In addition to being closer to family, Apostle said Shelton was a beautiful place to live.
“It’s a place where I think I can go to work with the community and staff to make a great place for kids,” he said.
Apostle was one of three finalists interviewed for the job. That district’s consultant was approved to begin contract negotiations with Apostle.
“We believe that Dr. Apostle's experience and accomplishments will serve to our advantage as we continue on with the Shelton School District mission,” the district stated in its web post.
Apostle will continue to serve as superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools for the duration of the current school year.
He leaves as MCPS attempts to win public support for a $158 million bond initiative for school renovations and construction. The effort has been two years in the making and will go to voters this November.
Apostle said he was leaving with a good feeling for the path that the district was on.
“People here will take the programs and bond and will succeed,” he said.
In February, the MCPS board of trustees met in executive session for Apostle’s annual evaluation. They unanimously voted to maintain his pay of $200,000 over the 2015-16 school year.
In 2013, the divided board granted Apostle a 13-percent pay raise, boosting his salary from $155,000 to $175,000. It also provided a raise to $185,000 in 2013-14, and $200,000 in 2014-15.
Trustees later voted to extend his contract through 2016, but had not set a salary level for that year.
The 13-percent increase left teachers angry, as well as the Missoula Education Association, which said other district employees received a 2 percent increase.
At the time, Apostle was mum on future plans, saying he was happy with MCPS and was looking forward to continuing work.
On Friday afternoon, Apostle said he let the chair of the MCPS board, Joe Knapp, know a month ago that he applied for the position in Washington.
After learning he had been chosen as the new Shelton superintendent on Thursday, Apostle informed the rest of the district's trustees.
Apostle’s contract with MCPS runs through June of 2016.
He said he had previously indicated to the board that he would not be seeking a renewal, but would not say when he had informed trustees. In recent months, both the superintendent and trustees had refused to answer questions about his future plans.
Although he said he wouldn’t involve himself with picking a new superintendent, Apostle hinted that at this pivotal time for MCPS, someone from inside the district would have a lot to offer.
“We have great people in this district that could handle the superintendency. If you bring someone in from the outside at this time, they’re going to have to be a quick study,” he said.