New Ennis School Board gets off to rough start, to hold special meeting

The Ennis School Board reorganized at their regular monthly meeting Monday night, swearing in two new board members – Craig George and Bill Clark – and electing a new board chair.

Board member Lisa Frye was voted to lead the board and new board member Craig George was elected to be the vice chair.

Clark and George beat out Chad Coffman and Josh Vujovich for two spots on the Ennis School Board in the May 8 school election. Clark received the most votes with 599, George received 585, Vujovich received 557 and Coffman received 505.

Clark and George will replace outgoing school board members Gary Croy and Marc Glines.

Monday’s board reorganization came at the end of the meeting and so for the first part of the meeting the old board approved employment contracts for the two principals and new school superintendent John Overstreet.

The old board also hired two women to share the Adult Education duties. Cori Koenig and Kathy Olkowski will split the full-time job that pays $20 per hour.

When the new board members were sworn in their first main act was to address the contract of Ennis School District Clerk Ginger Martello.

The board initially voted not to renew Martello’s contract, which expires June 30. The new board members said they weren’t ready to approve the contract because they hadn’t had time to review it, said Frye in an interview Tuesday.

However, the vote drew heated comment from the public and the board ultimately decided to put off making a decision on Martello’s contract until Monday at a special board meeting.

On Tuesday, Frye said it’s important that the new board members get a chance to review contracts the board approves. She also wants to discuss Martello’s past performance and contract with an attorney.

“I do also want it to be very clear that I absolutely believe it would be a huge detriment to try and move forward without Ginger as the school clerk,” Frye said. “Her knowledge is very vital, I understand that. I don’t believe the issues I want to discuss with an attorney are going to prevent us from offering her another contract.”

Martello declined to comment on the contract discussion, but did confirm the meeting agenda and what the board decided through the course of the meeting.

This coming Monday night the board is also going to discuss hiring a new attorney. Elizabeth Kaleva, an attorney from Missoula, has represented the district for several years.

Looking for a new attorney is a process the board hasn’t really discussed, but one it at least should bring up, Frye said.

“I think it needs to be discussed amongst the board and the board could very well decide that they’re happy with Elizabeth’s services,” she said.

Frye also acknowledged that Monday’s contentious meeting marks a rough start for the new board.

“It’s upsetting and I don’t think Bill or Craig or I ever wanted the huge blowup that happened last night,” she said. “We just weren’t ready to appoint or rehire Ginger at this point. Unfortunately the folks that don’t agree with where we’re at took that as we want to fire her.”

Monday’s special meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at the Ennis High School.

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