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Trustee speaks out in support of superintendent’s raise

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Feb 13 2013 10:31:20 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Following up on Tuesday night’s heated meeting centering on a 13-percent raise for Missoula Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle.  We spent the day reaching out to school board and union members to get their thoughts on the meeting. 

NBC Montana called all six of the board members who voted for Apostle's pay raise.  Four of them never called back, one had no comment, but Drake Lemm wanted to talk.

Lemm says he was surprised by the number of teachers and community members who showed up to protest.

"They shouldn't have that much emotional capital invested in something that really had nothing much to do with what their salary is,” said Lemm.

He says he feels the teachers and people who addressed the board last night took the salary increase too personally.

"It was like it was teachers against the superintendent," he said.

Lemm is one of six board members who voted for the pay raise and protesters had plenty to say about that.

"When the six members of this board that voted yes are up for re-election I'm going to knock on doors until my knuckles bleed.  Then I'm going bandage my hand and keep knocking,” said one protester whose comments were met with cheering from the crowd.

Lemm says although Apostle has shown interest in other positions around the country, it wasn't much of a factor when he cast his vote.

“I look at his value to the district; I look at it as what it would cost to replace him; I look at it as the initiative, the drive, the motivation and the vision that he's brought into our district,” said Lemm.

When we asked Lemm if he thought Apostle would accept the raise, he said he did believe so. 

“I expect knowing Dr. Apostle that he thinks he's worth it,” he said.  

Above all Lemm says he believes Apostle has done an excellent job and he stands by his decision.

We tried to contact Apostle Wednesday afternoon to confirm if he accepted the pay raise but we didn’t hear back. 

Lemm believes Apostle accepted the raise along with an extension of his contract offered unanimously by board members Tuesday night.