Opponents of a decision to give the Missoula Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle a 13-percent raise protested Tuesday evening before the start of the monthly school board meeting.
Before the meeting started the Missoula Education Association, other local labor unions, teachers and community members held informational picket lines and protested the pay raise.
Students also held a separate protest at the XXX’s in downtown Missoula after which they marched to join the teacher protest.
Protesters filled the sidewalks around Sentinel High School boasting signs with questions and comments for the school board trustees and Dr. Apostle.
MEA Vice President Melanie Charlson was there and told us she thinks Apostle’s raise is simply too big and says a more appropriate raise would have been in line.
The school board meeting kicked off at 6 p.m. in the Sentinel auxiliary gym. So many people attended the meeting there wasn’t enough seating for everyone and the line for public comment was out the door.
MEA officials announced that 96 percent of employees voted no confidence for 6 of 10 board members.
Dozens of teachers, students and community members stood up and directly asked Apostle to turn down the raise; they cited shortfalls in public school wages, educational programs, classroom conditions and technology.
Apostle was there but he didn't show much reaction.
Teachers say they want to do the best job they can but feel a loss of trust in the superintendent and some members of the school board.
“We have now been told by Dr. Apostle for over two years that there's no money and that we're in dire straits,” said Missoula teacher Christy Meurer. “Trust me, we have felt the cuts and seen the proof in the budget.”
A long line of students stood up and voiced their concerns; all unanimously asking Apostle to turn down the raise.
“I couldn't help but notice each school board member had nothing but excellent remarks for our superintendent. For this he should clearly be commended,” said Sentinel High School senior Nicky Manlove. “Yet it would mean injustice for me as a student at Sentinel High School to watch those who work endlessly for my success neglected and overlooked.”
The school board meeting started at 6 p.m. and was still under way at 10:30.
NBC Montana will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest details as we learn more.