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Community members prepare for Apostle pay raise pickets

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Feb 11 2013 10:57:55 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 11 2013 11:00:50 PM MST
MISSOULAL, Mont. -

Following up on a story we've been covering since early January.  Missoula Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle was voted a controversial 13 percent pay raise.

The raise has caused backlash from the community, teachers and students.

Tuesday the Missoula Education Association, students and teachers are planning informational pickets about the pay raise at several locations; the pickets will end at the school board meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday night.

Monday afternoon we met with MEA officials to get the details of the events.

MEA tells us the plan is to share their concern over Apostle's salary raise right before the school board meeting begins.

MEA Vice President Melanie Charlson says Apostle's pay increase was unfair to other employees who only got a 2 percent raise.

"This particular raise of 13 percent at this time just seems very much in disagreement with what we had all been told in regards to the economy, current budget cuts, issues within the district," said Charlson.  "To have a 13 percent raise for one individual come forward at this time really seems extravagant and out-of-place."

Monday evening teachers and union officials made signs for Tuesday evenings events.  

A few examples read: "Really? $200,000 plus benefits and we do not have enough teachers."

"Math specialists and reading specialists CUT because there is no more money???"

Another reads,"Our budget is small, Apostle's raise is HUGE, faculty and staff morale is LOW."

Charlson says the goal for Tuesday is to let people ask questions about Apostle's pay increase and to talk with teachers about their concerns over the situation in hopes that a public outcry will reverse the board's decision.

"Every individual that works hard certainly deserves compensation appropriate for their efforts," said Charlson. "I would say that an appropriate raise might have been better at this point in time; 13 percent seems excessive."

Along with the MEA and teacher pickets at Sentinel High School, students plan to gather at the XXXX's in downtown Missoula for a march too.

Both the MEA picket and the student-led march begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday.  

Student coordinators tell us they will picket downtown for a bit and then march to Hellgate High School, after which they will join union officials
at the school board meeting at Sentinel High School.

The school board meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be held in the auxillary gym.