Outgoing Missoula Superintendent Suggests Schools Enact Mask Mandates Without Board Approval

Missoula County Public School's outgoing Superintendent Rob Watson recommended during tonight's school board meeting that individual schools should be able to enact mask mandates without school board approval. Watson said that the option should be made available in cases of "cluster outbreaks" during his "COVID Update."

During public comment for non-agenda items, several parents commented on the proposed change to policy 2311 which would allow teachers to use instructional materials (non-textbook) without obtaining board approval first. One commenter wanted to know more about why the board sought this change. Another asked the board to ensure that there is no Montana law requiring the board to approve instructional material before the vote on the policy change at the board's next meeting. Another parent described how this very policy had a bad outcome in her former school district.

The board also discussed the appointment of the Interim Superintendent, Russ Lodge, who will serve for one year and then retire.

During the board interview, Mr. Lodge described his 45-year work history in education starting off with his job teaching 5-6 graders. Lodge mentioned he had been a principal at several schools including his job as assistant superintendent the last 3 years at Missoula schools.

The school board voted to confirm Mr. Lodge as the Interim Superintendent through June of 2023 with only one nay from school board Trustee Mike Gehl.

Watson also announced a new administrative position that will be recruited once Mr. Lodge's contract is confirmed, a second assistant superintendent. The two assistant superintendent roles will oversee K-8 and high school facilities separately. Mr. Watson claims he used cost savings he found to cover the additional salary, saying that no more tax payer money would be needed.

A representative from Montana Federation of Public Employees, the union representing Montana teachers, made public comment in support of Mr. Lodge's appointment to the Interim Superintendent position.