No Decision on Gist Contract

May 24, 2013

The State Board of Education discussed a contract extension for Education Commissioner Deborah Gist last night but took no action. The conversation took place behind closed doors, which is standard practice for personnel matters.

At least 200 people attended the public portion of the board meeting, some to testify in opposition to Gist and others to speak on a controversial measure to arm state college police. The board passed the measure on campus police, allowing each state university to make its own decision about arming campus police forces.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has become a lightning rod for criticism after championing polices that tie standardized testing to high school diplomas and teacher evaluations. The state’s two teachers’ unions say morale among teachers is low, and they accuse Gist of ignoring their input.

Supporters, including business leaders and State Education Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso, say Gist is taking necessary steps to improve public schools.

The Board of Education has been in talks with Gist about extending her contract after it expires this June, and this was the first time the full board met to discuss the contract. The board may vote on the extension at its next meeting, scheduled for June 6th.