​​Michelle Deziel

​​For Stillwater School Board

Recent History
Over a year ago, the Stillwater School Board conducted a search for a superintendent. As part of the search team, I help save taxpayers $30,000 conducting the search independently. The process was open and transparent. The board hired Denise Pontrelli as superintendent to implement the previously approved and fiscally-responsible strategic plan (Bridge to Excellence).
Regrettably, an impartial analysis made known the need to consolidate and close three schools in order to preserve and make best-use of the limited resources of the school district. The board has approved B.O.L.D but implementation is being delayed by lawsuits waged by a group of people called 834 Voice. Instead of investing in students, Stillwater School district is forced to pay for costly court cases. So far, the district has paid $100,000 in legal fees because of these lawsuits.
 
Solution


I support the core principles, goals and objectives of the Bridge to Excellence. B.O.L.D is the board approved plan to implement this strategic plan. I know that modifications are needed to B.O.L.D to account for Marine Elementary's approval for a charter school.  
B.O.L.D was designed to provide equitable learning experiences for students regardless of where they live in the district; and to create sustainable funding for student programming and resources while making the best-use of taxpayers's dollars. 

Lawsuits

Melissa Douglas and 834 Voice are suing Stillwater School district for school closures. Recently, Ms. Douglas’s case was quickly dismissed in summary judgment for lacking a basis to sue or a valid remedy allowed by the court. The other two cases are awaiting decisions. One appears to be a hodge-podge of allegations likely intended to be a costly nuisance and harassment to the district.

Community Solutions

Superintendent Pontrelli has a three-year contract and she is only one-year into it.  Pontrelli has been fulfilling the duties of her position.  Her contract should continue and the school board should regularly review her job performance. Pontrelli met extensively with groups opposing  school closures and ran the numbers. Keeping the schools open would require additional  sustained funding which the district does not have. Parents and supporters of Marine Elementary courageously stepped-up to make it a charter school. ISD 834 has agreed to cooperate with the operations of the charter school within the district.

Problem

The 834 Voice is in favor of terminating Superintendent Denise Pontrelli’s contract. If this happens, the district may be liable to settle for $300,000 or more.  Then ISD 834 would have to conduct another search. Hiring a search firm could cost the district $30,000. The 834 Voice has not established a viable solution that stabilizes funding for the district.