At a Carbon County Board of Education meeting last Wednesday, David Armstrong was reappointed as the school district's superintendent following an executive session.
"I was deeply touched by the number of people who came out to support me tonight," said Armstrong before the board returned from an executive session and the members cast votes in the matter.
In the last few weeks, several issues in the district have brought the superintendent's performance into the lime light and, with the reappointment coming up, the discussion among citizens and school personnel increased.
In the next couple of years the, school board will face some difficult challenges.
The challenges the board of education and superintendent will have to deal with include a state testing system for students which will determine whether certain seniors receive diplomas, certificates of completion and what the district will do about declining enrollment, particularly at East Carbon High and Helper Junior High schools.
Introducing the reappointment matter on Feb. 9, board member Grady McEvoy explained that the agenda for the meeting was being realigned to accommodate citizens who had come to comment on the issue.
Due to the number of people who wanted to comment, McEvoy said the board had decided to limit individuals who were speaking to one minute and people representing groups to two minutes.
McEvoy also indicated that the members would not respond to the comments, but would take the information into consideration during the board's deliberations.
"I want to say, after having experiences in other school districts in the west, it takes a lot of time for a superintendent to build relationships in a school district," commented Nancy Cammans who represented a number of parents at the board meeting.
"He (Armstrong) has been in the job three years and that isn't enough time to build and hold those relationships. I have found he responds quickly when people have questions and that he always listens to what people have to say," continued Cammans.
One of the strongest speeches of support came from James Thompson, who represents the Carbon Education Association during labor negotiations with the school district.
"My relationship with Dr. Armstrong has not been without clashes, but then that is the nature the position I am in," said Thompson. "However, despite those differences of opinion, he was hired to perform curriculum changes in the district and he has done that in a positive manner. It appears that based on the teachers we have spoken with his support amongst educators in the district is split in the secondary schools, but he has overwhelming support in the elementary schools."
Another endorsement came from former school district board member, Walt Borla.
"In the 16 years I served on the board of education we had five different superintendents. When Dr. Armstrong came on board he said he wanted to concentrate on reading, to be sure that by the time kids reached the third grade they were all reading at a third grade level. I think the academics in the district turned toward the good when he arrived and I am proud of what he and the board have done."
A number of others also spoke presenting similar sentiments. The board then went into executive session to consider the matter, while the crowd was left to wait and ponder what would happen. About 40 minutes later the board emerged and took a vote based on board member Debbie Blackburn's motion that the superintendent be reappointed.
The vote was a 4-1 vote in favor of Armstrong retaining the position, with only board member Jim Leonard voting against the motion.
In other business the district also accepted a check from Patrick Painter (state legislative representative from district 67 which encompasses the western half of Carbon County) for $1500. The check was presented to the board by Borla.
"Right after I was defeated by Painter last fall for the legislative spot I sent him a letter of congratulations and a few days later he sent me an envelope with $500 enclosed and told me to donate it to the Helper Light Parade committee," stated Borla. "Then a few days ago he sent me another letter with this check enclosed for the school district. His only requirement is that we let him know what they money is used for."
Another positive development was an award presented to teacher Lynn Hunt from Castle Heights Elementary. She has won the award for science teacher of the year in Region 7. The award will be given to her by the Utah Science Teachers Association at a ceremony on Feb. 18.
The board also had a short discussion concerning the decision by the state board of education to turn down Pinnacle Canyon Academy's request to be granted a high school charter.
"If the state had approved that it would have had a large impact on our school district," said McEvoy. "The superintendent worked hard to make sure the state board had the information they needed to make a good choice. We are pleased with the outcome."
During the work session the board holds before the main meeting, the board also discussed a report from state risk management considering Price City's request that the school district let them use two acres of land on the Creekview Elementary School campus to build a new skateboard park. According to the discussion, the report came in saying that the park would not be a good investment for the school district.
The board made the decision to talk with the city about the results and to discuss the situation farther.