Board extends Laster's contract

South Whidbey School Superintendent Martin Laster, left, and School Board Director Ray Gabelein chat following Thursday
South Whidbey School Superintendent Martin Laster, left, and School Board Director Ray Gabelein chat following Thursday's special board meeting. The board approved a new three-year contract for Laster at the meeting.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

After two lengthy closed-door school board meetings earlier in the week, the South Whidbey School Board renewed the contract of schools superintendent Martin Laster for another three years.

On Thursday, the South Whidbey Board of Education approved a contract with Laster through June 2005. The board's approval was unanimous at the special meeting, something that brought a round of applause from an audience of about 20 community members and district employees.

The contract was approved with Laster earning a base salary of $98,000 per year over the next five years, plus annual cost of living allowances.

Laster joined the district in June 2000 at the same salary level.

Each June, the board evaluates the superintendent's job performance. Once that evaluation is completed, the board may choose to extend the superintendent's contract or roll it over -- meaning the superintendent is given another three-year contract.

Laster was pleased to take the rollover.

"It's an honor to work in the South Whidbey School district," Laster said after the meeting,

This year's evaluation caused a late night for board members and a hardy few who waited for the end of the executive session following Monday night's meeting. The meeting lasted until after 12:30 a.m.

The length session caused some concern among some interested community members, some of whom returned for Thursday's meeting.

Director Jim Adsley said after the meeting that the amount of time taken for the evaluation was not unusual.

Chairman Gabelein thanked those who stuck it out on Monday evening and returned Thursday to learn the board's action.

"We accomplished a lot," he said. "Getting people on the same page takes time. We are pleased to extend Dr. Laster's contract now, and hope to continue to do so."

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