BAKER — Despite opposition from one sitting Baker School Board member and an incoming board member, the board voted 4-1 Tuesday night to extend Superintendent Herman Brister’s contract through the end of 2020 — just weeks before a new board is seated.
Board members Calvin Dees Sr., Elaine Davis, Dana Carpenter and Rosatina Johnson voted in favor of the extension.
Shona Boxie, who cast the lone dissenting vote, argued that the incoming board should have the choice whether to allow Brister to remain superintendent for another two years.
Boxie ran unopposed in the November election. She and Davis are the only sitting members who will retain their seats when new terms begin in January.
“Dr. Brister is an excellent superintendent and I always gave him a good review, but the new board should make the decision,” Boxie said.
Carpenter pointed out that Brister’s current contract ends in June, so he would be superintendent when the new board members began their terms even if the board didn’t decide to extend the contract.
“We always give the superintendent a month or so after the (annual) evaluation to decide if he wants to continue with us. We did that and Dr. Brister agreed to extend his contract and not ask for additional pay, which was a good thing for him to do,” Carpenter said.
The board evaluated Brister in October, awarding him a score of “well above expectations” for his third year as superintendent.
Incoming board member Sharlous Booker, who defeated Carpenter in the Nov. 6 primary, urged the board to hold off on extending the contract. She said it was unfair to incoming members not to allow them to review Brister’s performance evaluation and make their own decision about his contract.
“I have seen Dr. Brister with the kids and I know he is all about the Herd,” Booker said, referring to the nickname for the Baker Buffalos. “But I don’t think it is fair. We should be allowed to see what he has achieved and what his goals are.”
The board also recognized the outgoing board members for their service, with special attention to Carpenter, the longest-serving member.
Carpenter has been on the board continuously since Baker became its own school district in 1998 and he emphasized that change comes slowly.
“I learned in athletics that it’s all about inches. An inch will make a difference where you place a ball on a football field. Someday, we will get to the goal line,” he said.
He said he is proud of the school district’s accomplishments, including building a new track and stadium and providing Chrome Books to students.
Davis served alongside Carpenter for nearly his entire tenure, with a gap from 2006-2010 when she lost her District 1 seat.
“I will miss your wit, wisdom, and knowledge of education, K through 12,” she told him.
The other board members leaving in January are Dees, who lost to challenger Vanessa Park, and Johnson, who was defeated by former Baker City Council member Joyce Burges.