Education board votes against renewing Armstrong's contract
|Carbon County native David Armstrong: Graduated from Notre Dame Regional School and College of Eastern Utah. Served as superintendent of an Indiana school district with 41,000 students before returning to Price. Assumed the Carbon superintendent's position in July, 2001. Presided over the closure of East Carbon High in 2005. Presided over the implementation of No Child Left Behind legislation and Utah's basic skills testing requirements. Along with staff, helped plan the new Bruin Point Elementary School under construction in Sunnyside.|
Last Wednesday's meeting was the first session for new board of education members and the beginning of the end for a superintendent who has served Carbon School District for five years.
An hour after Ruby Cordova and Wayne Woodward were sworn in, they voted with board members Grady McEvoy, Barry Deeter and Debbie Blackburn to end superintendent David Armstrong's reign as the administrative leader of Carbon district on June 30 by not renewing his contract for the 2007-08 school year.
The Carbon County Board of Education vote came quickly and with little fanfare at the Jan. 10 meeting.
"It is a total shock. No one expected this," commented Melissa Hamilton, principal at Petersen Elementary.
After assuming the superintendent's position in 2002, Armstrong faced several difficult decisions and hurdles.
The decisions and hurdles included:
Presiding over the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.
Complying with state rules requiring students to pass tests in order to graduate from high school.
Mitigating the impacts associated with the growth of Pinnacle Canyon Academy, which drew students from the school district's rolls.
And the closure of East Carbon High.
|Grady McEvoy swears in school board members Ruby Cordova and Wayne Woodward on Jan. 10.|
In Carbon School District, superintendents serve two-year contracts.
The employment agreement must be renewed bi-annually.
Two years ago when the contract was up for renewal, Carbon County Education Association representatives supported the superintendent, indicating that teachers liked Armstorng's approach and wanted him to remain at the helm.
At the time, the board of education members voted 3-2 to renew Armstrong's employment agreement.
Last Wednesday, the majority of residents attending the meeting seemed to expect the board to reappoint the superintendent. But when Carol Carlson of the CCEA addressed the board during the citizen comment period, the atmosphere changed.
"We took a poll of 95 percent of the CCEA members in the district and only 50 percent of the elementary teachers supported Dr. Armstrong and, in the secondary ranks, 75 percent are opposed to his reappointment," stated Carlson. "More and more teachers feel morale is going down and it is the general consensus that his contract not be renewed."
After the CCEA representative's comments, the board proceeded with the items listed on the regularly scheduled public meeting's agenda.
However, the board moved the reappointment of the superintendent being moved to the end of the meeting so that the board could go into executive session to discuss the issue farther.
When the board returned from the executive session they asked the superintendent if he had anything to say.
"I was shocked when I heard that that the elementary teachers aren't in support of me," he began. "We have asked them to do a lot. We have had a lot of grants which we ran by them and their responses came back favorably towards them and the work they involved. I can understand their feelings of being overwhelmed by everything. However, I am not surprised by the secondary teachers response. All I have been doing is asking them to work. Whoever is in my position will have to do the same things in order to keep test scores up and kids learning. What I have to do in this job sometimes makes people upset."
Immediately after the superintendents remarks, board member Deeter made the motion that the board not renew the superintendents contract and Cordova seconded it. McEvoy called for the vote and the motion carried unanimously.
"I can't talk about the reasons the board voted the way it did," said McEvoy the next day. "But I can tell you it was a very difficult decision for us."
When asked when the search for a new superintendent would begin McEvoy said that would depend on a number of factors, and that there are not definite plans for doing so at the present time.