School board votes to retain assistant superintendent

Blanton -
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The South Whidbey Board of Education voted Tuesday night to retain the district's assistant superintendent.

Earlier this month during a workshop meeting, the board discussed laying off Dan Blanton. At that meeting, they noted a final decision would be made with the publication of next year's budget on July 10. This week, board members decided to act much earlier.

At this week's meeting, which more 100 people attended, a dozen spoke in favor of retaining Blanton.

The possibility of the layoff came up at the workshop when Superintendent Martin Laster presented the board with six sample budget reductions that did not include reducing staff except by attrition. Concern about the budget and reduced state funding led to the discussion of laying off Blanton.

After careful consideration and receiving more information, board director Jim Adsley said he preferred to retain Blanton.

The same went for board president Ray Gabelein. He said he still stood behind the original decision to resurrect the assistant superintendents position -- which had been empty for several years -- over a year ago. The position, he said, is one the district cannot do without.

"I know they are very busy in the central office," Gabelein said.

During a public comment period, 12 people, mostly district employees, spoke in favor of retaining Blanton.

Audience member, Bill McAffey suggested waiting for publication of the school budget on July 10 before making a final decision on Blanton's position.

Craig Williams, who was involved in the search for the superintendent in 2000, said he supported Laster's recommendation to retain Blanton.

Diane Moondancer, the administrator of Bayview High School said the possibility of Blanton's layoff made her feel disrespected.

"I question your motivation for considering the layoff," she told the board.

Moondancer said it would be detrimental to the district to lay off Blanton.

Micki Knowlton, coordinator of the district's Readiness to Learn program, asked the board to consider keeping Blanton.

"Those of us in the buildings work very hard too and you've always wanted to hold on to people," Knowlton said.

The vote to retain Blanton was 3 -0 with Barb Schneeman abstaining. Bob Riggs was absent from the meeting. Following the vote there was applause from the audience.

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