Schools superintendent wants two-year extension to contract, it looks like he has the votes to get it

lkahn@keynoter.comJune 7, 2014 

The head of Monroe County's public schools wants a two-year extension on his contract, and it looks like he'll get it, or an extension of some kind.

Mark Porter, hired from Minnesota by the School Board on Aug. 8, 2012, under a three-year contract for $150,000 annually, wants an extension until July 31, 2017. His current deal expires on July 31, 2015.

Board Chairman Ron Martin put the proposal on the board's agenda for its meeting Tuesday, which starts at 3 p.m. at Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road.

"I think he's brought stability," Martin said. “He's hired a great leadership team. The bus is out of the ditch."

He was referring to work Porter has done to get the School District out from under a budget deficit following the 2009 finance scandal that cost then-Superintendent Randy Acevedo his job and resulted in Acevedo's wife getting eight years in prison for stealing $400,000 from the district.

Board member John Dick -- the only board member not to vote to hire Porter -- said "he's made some mistakes but I think he's doing a good enough of a job. I am satisfied with his work. Of course, there are areas where I want to see improvement."

At Tuesday's board meeting, the board will discuss Porter's latest job review. He scored an average of 3.25 on a 5-point scale.

"I haven't made up my mind" on an extension, board member Robin Smith-Martin said. "I can see multiple perspectives. We have come a long way in the past four years to get the district on track. What we need now is a steady hand. I think Porter is the right guy.
He's not from here, he doesn't owe anyone anything, he doesn't have allegiances."

Porter's most vocal critic, board member Ed Davidson, says giving Porter an extension is the wrong way to go.

"Porter has been lobbying School Board members to extend his contract. The only reason for that -- he has 14 months to run [on his current deal] -- is to deny the new School Board members the ability to decide who they want as superintendent."

Three of the five School Board seats are up for election in August.

"The only impetus for this has to be the fear that one or two more reformers will get elected," Davidson said. "It's an attempt to steal the directional authority from the School Board that gets seated in November. It's that simple. I think it's immoral and unethical."

Board member Andy Griffiths isn't inclined to give Porter the extension he wants, but will consider a one-year extension.

"I think going to 2017, I think that's overreaching," Griffiths said. "I think you've got to work with the guy to see if you want him," he said of the new board that will be seated after the election.

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