Billings Schools to Buy Out Superintendent

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – Two weeks after the Billings school board voted not to extend the superintendent’s contract beyond the current school year, the board voted to end his employment by the end of October.

Trustees voted 7-2 Monday to terminate Keith Beeman’s contract and then voted unanimously to negotiate a buy-out package for him by Oct. 31.

Beeman declined to comment after the meeting.

He was hired in May 2010 as superintendent of the state’s largest school district and started the following month at an annual salary of $160,000.

Board chairwoman Barbara Bryan argued that Beeman cut $2.5 million from the district’s budget, preventing teacher and staff cuts, and received a positive evaluation from trustees in February. Several times during the meeting, she expressed exasperation that Beeman was going to lose his job after doing everything the board directed him to do.

Trustee Pam Ellis argued that Beeman had failed to successfully negotiate the district’s three union contracts and the board has received complaints about low morale in the district.

Trustees Lindy Graves and Travis Kemp called for Monday’s special meeting to vote on Beeman’s contract. Kemp said that after the board voted not to extend Beeman’s contract and after receiving numerous phone calls from constituents, he felt compelled to put Beeman’s contract up for a vote.

Beeman’s contract requires the district to pay out 50 percent of the remainder of the deal and 100 percent of his benefits.

The board also voted to form a committee to search for an interim and a permanent superintendent.

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