The Apostle shuffle

The Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) district looks more and more like a game of musical chairs these days. Superintendent Alex Apostle recently rearranged which administrators sit where for the second time in two years, and there's no indication that he's done.

MCPS announced the latest round of reassignments late last month, a personnel adjustment that has three principals and one assistant principal switching spots. Public Affairs Director Lesli Brassfield admits the changes—generated by the retirement of a Big Sky High School dean—are a bit hard to follow, but does her best to sum them up for the 2010-2011 academic year.

For starters, acting Big Sky Principal Paul Johnson will take over for Bob Gearheart this fall as principal of Washington Middle School. Gearheart will then move to C.S. Porter Middle School, Brassfield says, where he'll serve as assistant principal. That leaves current C.S. Porter Assistant Principal Lisa Hendrix free to take the helm at Meadow Hill Middle School, presently under the administration of Principal Nick Carter. Carter will replace the retiring dean at Big Sky High School, and a new principal will be hired for Big Sky.

Brassfield says no one will be fired, and MCPS Personnel Director Larry Johnson says none of the relocated administrators will take a pay cut. These sorts of reassignments have occurred periodically in the past, Johnson says, though the district has seen more change in the past two years—since Apostle's arrival—than in the previous two.

"You can look at this as an effort to bring new ideas to different schools," Johnson says. "And that I think is pretty fundamental."

Brassfield and Johnson won't speak to the specific reasons behind the reassignments. Johnson only assures that none were made for disciplinary reasons. He credits the moves largely to Apostle's five goals for greater student achievement at MCPS, which include restructuring.

"Last year, he made several moves in restructuring," Johnson says. "So this is just a continuation of that effort."

And if Apostle's past actions speak to future direction, he'll likely be starting up the music again soon.

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