News broke this week that Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle won't be going anywhere. At least not for now.
Earlier this month, Apostle announced he was a finalist in the search for a superintendent of Spokane Public Schools. The possible loss of a leader who'd been trumpeted by the school board and the community caused a stir. Trustees assured the public they'd do what they could to keep him here. Meanwhile, during a public forum in Spokane, Apostle couldn't have sounded more excited about the new opportunity. "Spokane Public Schools is the best superintendency in the state, in the country," Apostle was quoted saying in the Spokesman-Review. "I believe I can move Spokane schools to a place they've never been."
The words can't sting much. MCPS has 8,750 students; Spokane has 29,275. It would have been an obvious promotion for a man who's already retired once. But Apostle's eagerness to relocate after just short of a four-year stint in Missoula gave us pause, long enough to reflect on what he means to the district.
Since starting in 2008, Apostle's changed MCPS so much you'd hardly recognize it. He's restructured the administration and relocated or replaced almost all of the district's 17 principals. He's implemented an International Baccalaureate Program at Hellgate High and a Health Sciences Academy at Big Sky. He's promised to increase graduation rates and carry the district into the wondrous, tech-centric world of the 21st centurypromises that are just starting to bloom. Apostle's in the middle of a complex project to improve local education, and trustees recognize that to lose him now could seriously set the district back.
That song sounds familiar. The school board used Apostle's apparent value to justify his $15,000 raise in the fall of 2010. Teachers and staff raised Cain, claiming the 10 percent bump was an insult viewed alongside their measly 0.5 percent raises. The debate cost one trustee, Nancy Pickhardt, her position when she told two retired teachers to "go fuck yourselves" for questioning the superintendent's worth.
Spokane turned down Apostle this week in favor of another finalist. According to MCPS, Apostle's work in the district hasn't gone unnoticed and Spokane probably won't be the last district to come courting. And so we wonder what price the trustees will place on Apostle if the next proposal sticks, and whether he'll finish his homework before he transfers.