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Sep 14, 2011 4:30 AM by Drew Trafton - Q2 News

UPDATE: Board votes 5-4 against superintendent extension

UPDATE: School Board chair Barb Bryan spoke to Q2 after the meeting and said she was dissapointed in the vote, but is ready to move forward.

Bryan said that process will most likely involve forming a committee to begin looking at searching out a new superintendent.

That decision could be made later in September.

Bryan says there is a rift between school board members, and she doesn't know why it happened-- but believed the board was functioning well until May of 2010.

On the other side of the rift, Pam Ellis, the vocal leader in opposition to the extension, also acknowledged the need for a search committee for a new superintendent, and says she thought the board did the right thing by voting to not extend Beeman's contract.

Ellis did not know how to fix the rift in the school board either, but hopes the decision is a lauching point for change on the school board.

We'll have a more comprehensive reaction for you right here on KTVQ.com and on Montana This Morning and our other broadcasts throughout the day on Wednesday.

UPDATE: 5-4 vote against extension. Meeting adjourned.

9:10 UPDATE: Bryan now speaking.

Bryan says this is an opportune time to address superintendent extension.

Bryan says communication is a two way street.

She acknowledged Dr. Beeman has had several accusations made against him about being unfriendly, and that he has also been treated unkindly.

Bryan says accusations that the board is lacking in communication and lying in inner circles on the school board 'ludicrous'.

Bryan says she is upset that the focus of the school board is that of catering to adults working in the district rather than supporting the youth.


8:54 UPDATE: Dr. Greta Moen says she agrees with Aragon that communication must be better as cooperation is lacking.

Moen says as teachers say they fear retribution for their thoughts, parents are saying their children are not able to express adverse opinions to teachers.


8:51 UPDATE: Trustee Pam Ellis says Dr. Beeman has been disrespectful, not a leader and would never vote for Dr. Beeman.


8:50 UPDATE: Two trustees are attending the media via telephone.

Trustee Lindeen says he does not feel the board is an inclusive group as he says prior to an agenda meeting, members met with Dr. Beeman without other members.

The other trustee said that she would not vote to extend contract.

Trustee Travis Kemp says he has made up his mind, and knows how he will vote but did not disclose that vote.


8:46 UPDATE: Aragon says there must be more union support behind mill levy.

Aragon says she will support contract extension without a raise, she says she will not throw the superintendent 'under the bus'.


8:45 UPDATE: Aragon says cuts in cell phone stipend and other measures saved teaching positions.

Aragon stresses working together is essential to addressing the 5 million dollar deficit facing the school district in the future.

Trustee Kathy Aragon says she is impressed with the work done by Dr. Beeman, including cost saving measures.

Aragon noted the board and district has been aware of painful cuts which were to be made to the school district this year and upcoming years.


8:35 UPDATE: Dr. Beeman speaks for the first time during the meeting, following a request from Wardell to list out goals and expectations Dr. Beeman was to be evaluated on when it came to determining extension.

Beeman noted there were 22 goals to be worked on during his contract.

Wardell then noted she felt those goals have been met or exceeded by Dr. Beeman.


8:30 UPDATE: Wardell continues to address crowd, saying accusations made at meeting tonight that board is not focused on children are ridiculous.

Wardell tells crowd that exit strategy, a controversial provision in proposed contract extension, is vital for the success of the district.


8:23 UPDATE: A motion has been passed to discuss the extension of Superintendent Beeman's contract.

Trustee Travis Smith says he is not going to support the extension because he believes the money is not present in the district.

Trustee Connie Wardell says she believes the crowd gathered would not be present if money was not an issue, or the 'elephant in the room'.
The crowd loudly disagreed by jeering.

Wardell tells the crowd, regardless of retaining Dr.Beeman, schools are changing and that means harsh budget cuts.


8:15 UPDATE: School District Attorney Jack Weldon explains to school board new contract extension provisions.

Before Weldon begins his talk on contract extension, Bryan sale Weldon to explain timeline of events leading up to contract renewal meeting.

Weldon says the timeline to renew the superintendent's contract is not unusual and that the board would have to begin search for a new superintendent by February.

Beeman's contract currently expires in June 2012.


7:55 UPDATE: Board begins deliberation 15 minutes late.

Bryan explains there will be a discussion of contract and then discussion of provisions of contract.

Following that period, everyone on the board will get a chance to speak and bring forth their persuasive arguments.


7:31 UPDATE: Public commenting comes to an end as former board member asks 'the front of the room to work with the back of the room.'

The board is in recess for a ten minute break.


7:30 UPDATE: Peter Gesuale, a former school board member, calls for people to avoid 'trench warfare' and to respect the board.

Gesuale says he has never felt such hostility, even during teaching strike.


7:20 UPDATE: City councilman Richard Clark says he supports renewal of Dr. Beeman's contract.

Says communication between council and school board has been the best he's seen in his 14 years on the council.

City councilman Ed Ulledalen concurs with Clark.

Tells board the council has a unique interest in the board because they too will be 'out of money, and out of options' in a few years.

Uledallen urges the board to make tough decisions as soon as possible.


7:10 UPDATE: First person commenting for contract renewal is the manager of an executive coaching firm.

The man commenting says the group commenting against the renewal is having difficulty with change, drawing jeers from the crowd when he noted money saved under Dr.Beeman.

The man says Beeman was hired to be an executive and make business decisions


6:55 UPDATE: An investigator for the internet crimes against children task force, who says he spends a lot of time in the classroom with students, says Dr.Beeman has failed and that the current situation is like a pot of boiling water waiting to boil over.


6:50 UPDATE: One high school teacher, who teaches 4 multiple subject classes, draws gasps from crowd when she announces that she teaches both French and world history during the same class period.


6:47 UPDATE: One retired teacher asked the board how they expect the crowd to be respectful when the board members are expressing their discontent with body language and passing notes during commenting.

After the comment, Chair of Board, Bryan, asks for time limit on comments to be suspended.


6:40 UPDATE: Local business woman, with no children in district, asks for vote of no confidence in superintendent.


6:38 UPDATE: Negative school board comments begin trending toward lack of leadership from school board and Beeman, a focus to meet minimum state standards to save money and a lack of good cause to extend the superintendent's contract pre-maturely.


6:30 UPDATE: Brian Murphy, representing the Montana Public Employee Association,
Explains to board about the grievance the union filed today and says they would like to continue negotiations in good faith.


6:25 UPDATE: Trustee Pam Ellis says that one of the responsibilities of the school board is to listen to public comment... And that to only give the 'nays' equal time to speak as those who want to support the contract extension.

The board passes the motion to extend comments so everyone can speak, the motion passes.

Public comment will continue until everyone has spoken.


6:15 UPDATE: Several comments have noted a lack of communication by the board to the rest of the district.

One comment fears a "you vs. them" mentality when it comes to district employees and school board.


6:10 UPDATE: "Everyone and everything is so micro-managed (under Dr. Beeman) that everyone is paralyzed when it comes to making any decision."say's Sukut

At the end of Sukut's comments, he draws standing ovation.

Next speaker draws applause for thanking Trustee Pam Ellis for standing up for students.


6:05 UPDATE: Same person commenting asks the board not renew Dr. Beeman's contract and for Barb Bryan to step down.

Associate Principal of Senior High (new speaker) Joe Sukut, says he feels uncomfortable speaking, however, does not understand how Dr.Beeman's new contract can allow for certain benefits and a salary raise when administrators were cut of same benefits.


6:00 UPDATE: "Only contract Dr. Beeman has properly maneuvered to complete in a timely manner was his own." - comment from board meeting.


5:55 UPDATE: First comments come from BCEA representative and draw applause and cheers from the crowd.

Second comments come from former school board member who hired Dr. Beeman, who is frustrated with lack of communication between superintendent and board members.

Former school board member also complains about Davis Report looking into new schools.

Board chair, Barb Bryan asks former board member, Mary Jo ?, to lower her tone of voice, which invites hoping from crowd.

The school board meeting began at 5:43p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance.


5:45 UPDATE; The audience gathered is being told by board chair Barb Bryan that the audience should be quiet during the meeting as there are board members on the phone listening in to the meeting.

The board will allot 1 hour for public comment.

Each speaker will be given 3 minutes to speak and are being asked if they have similar comments to express re-iteration of previous comments to allow time for others to speak.


5:35 UPDATE - BILLINGS- The School District 2 Board room has every seat filled and people lining the walls and standing outside and peering through the windows as the school board meeting commenced Tuesday evening.

Union members from the Billings Classified Employers Association, the Montana Public Employee Association, and members of the teacher's union who were protesting outside the Lincoln Center have moved into the board room and waiving their signs, prompting bursts of cheering from many in the room.

We'll have up to the minute updates right here on KTVQ.com.


BILLINGS - A new contract for Billings School Supt. Dr. Keith Beeman is the subject of a special board meeting underway tonight at the Lincoln Center in downtown Billings.
But even before the meeting started, teachers, parents, and union representatives gathered outside to protest.
The protestors maintain that contrary to Dr. Beeman's statements, there is labor unrest in the district and that they are not happy with his job performance.
Today's protest comes just minutes before the trustees will hear public comment on extending Dr. Beeman's contract for another three years.
Full details and a live report tonight on the Q2 5:30 News

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