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NKEA opposes superintendent's contract extension; Page is not surprised
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the opposition to Page's contract in the headline. There was opposition to extend the superintendent's contract, not to renew it.
POULSBO — Superintendent Patty Page heard opposition to the North Kitsap School Board's decision to extend her contract to 2017 on Feb. 13.
Page was not surprised.
The North Kitsap Education Association recently conducted a "climate study"; the study concluded that many district staff members are unhappy with the district's administration. The study was summarized during the public comment period of the Feb. 13 school board meeting.
"It was done at a time of high frustration," Page said of the study. In the past year, the district has closed a school and laid off and rehired staff. Class sizes increased, program funding was reduced, and the beginning of the school year was not as smooth as many would have liked.
There were a lot of factors in the beginning of the 2013-14 school year which "caused it to be rockier than anyone would want," she added.
The decision to extend the superintendent's contract came before the anniversary of her hire date. Those opposed to the contract renewal either wanted the contract to not be extended, or the board to continue evaluating her before it made the decision.
School board member Scott Henden cast the only "no" vote on the contract renewal; three members voted "yes.” Bill Webb was not present.
Henden said he supports the superintendent, but questions the need to extend her contract out by three years.
"Superintendent Page has done a great job," Henden said, adding that she deserves the board's support. "The problem isn't her."
Henden said it isn't prudent to have a contract extend for three years. Because of school culture, however, if a contract is not renewed it means something is wrong, he said.
NKEA’s co-presidents urged the board to delay its decision to extend the contract. After co-president Chris Fraser presented a summary of the climate study to the board, co-president Mike McCorkle said there wasn't enough information to make the decision. McCorkle said the decision should be made next year.
"We made cuts that were too severe this year,” he said. Things in the district need to improve, including allocation models, collaboration, and leadership at the building level, he said.
The board reviewed the superintendent's performance twice in January, according to board agendas. On Jan. 9 before its regular meeting, the board met for an hour in executive session to review Page's contract, for contract negotiations and for a personnel complaint; it met in executive session for an hour after the meeting for the same reasons. On Jan. 18, the board met in executive session for 30 minutes at the end of a special workshop.
The board is expected to spend part of two meetings annually to a discussion of the working relationship between the superintendent and the board, according to Page's contract. Following the evaluation, and prior to the anniversary date of the contract, the board and superintendent will make any adjustments to the contract. The board is required to notify the superintendent whether the contract will be extended for another year.
The board has extended the contract but has not finished making adjustments, if there will be any. That must be done before the anniversary date in June. Page said the board could, if it wanted to, renew her contract year by year, instead of extending it by three years.
Weedin said a lot of the reasons people are angry with the district is because of board decisions. Take layoffs and closing a school, for example; both were decisions voted on by the school board.
"Some of the things that were brought up regarding the start of school and the budget, that was [the board's] decision," Weedin said. "Be mad at us."