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Student-led petition against superintendent's raise gains momentum

Published On: Jan 25 2013 07:30:22 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 25 2013 09:19:47 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Dozens of Missoula students and adults are fighting back against a controversial pay raise for the schools superintendent.

The online petition drive started Wednesday, and since then it has snowballed.

As of Friday night, more than 600 people had signed it.

It calls for Superintendent Alex Apostle to reject his 13% pay raise that will bring his annual salary to $200,000 in three years.

Teachers told NBC Montana they were getting a 2% raise.

Students cite shortfalls in educational programs as reason to pressure the superintendent and school board.

Many don't think the salary is in line with services provided.

Some students said overcrowded classrooms, antiquated computers, access to computers are just some reasons they think the $200,000 salary is inappropriate.

The petition site is getting a lot of traffic.

Hellgate senior Yetta Stein wrote it with other students.

She thinks Apostle has the potential to be a good superintendent. But she doesn't think he's worth the money.

"I don't think he's done anything for my school," said Stein. "He hasn't improved my education and his slogan, 'Graduation Matters' has done very little."

Graduation Matters is a program to reduce the dropout rate. It was born in Missoula and has spread across the state.

The petition calls for re-evaluating the school board.

Trustee Jim Sadler said superintendents are paid according to market and availability.

Sadler wrote in an e-mail that Apostle was being recruited by other districts, and was being offered wages in the $200,000 range.

NBC Montana visited with Hellgate students on their lunch break.

One student said he thinks Apostle has made a difference. He's proud of Hellgate and thinks Apostles been a positive influence.

"Making sure school goes well," said Hellgate junior Tanner Williams, "making sure we all graduate, just keeping track of things."

Other students cite shortfalls in educational programs, like a computer lab that lacks supervisory staff so students can do their homework.

"Some students don't have computers or internet at their house and so it's important that the school have resources," said Hellgate senior Aurora Rummel-Lindwig.

Dr. Apostle said he had no comment on the petition at this time.