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Missoula voters send dramatic message to school administration

Published On: May 08 2013 06:53:04 PM MDT   Updated On: May 08 2013 06:56:32 PM MDT

Missoula voters turned out veteran  board members Tuesday who served on the school board for years.

Superintendent Alex Apostle said he welcomes the new board members, and thanks the old ones. He said he's proud of the work they did.

"We have the lowest dropout rate in the state," said Apostle, "the highest graduation rates, our test scores are above state and national averages. And it's based on the fine efforts of our staff and the support that our community has given."

The superintendent said the new board will be initiated on May 14, but Apostle said he will work to meet all of the new members before then.

One educator said Apostle will certainly see new challenges with new leaders.

Voters have been testy for months about a hugely controversial raise the school board approved. It would eventually put Apostle's salary in the $200,000 neighborhood.

A lot of voters remember that raise.

"Alex Apostle got a higher salary than our superintendent of public instruction for the entire state," said voter Ahri Cornelius. "That's ridiculous, the money should be going back into our teachers and classrooms."

Voters Jane and Mike East seconded that.

"They give people money they don't need," said Mike, "and they need to spend it on the students, not on the administration."

The Easts however, did vote for technology levies, saying it's an investment in the future. Apostle couldn't agree more.

The superintendent may have heard from voters about his unpopular raise, but he has his supporters. One educator NBC Montana talked with said Apostle is doing an excellent job leading Missoula schools into the future.

He said he's made great strides to broaden studies to accommodate student needs.