The Gilbert Unified School District has a new employee — the executive director of the Gilbert Historical Museum — but the historical society is funding her salary.
In a 3-1 vote June 14, the governing board approved "technically and legally" employing Kayla Kolar, the first executive director in the museum’s roughly 45-year history, with the Gilbert Historical Society giving the district the money for Kolar’s $50,000 salary and benefits.
The arrangement saves the nonprofit historical society money because as one of 5,000 employees of the school district, Kolar’s benefits won’t be as expensive. It also allows Kolar to have retirement benefits through the state retirement system.
"Creating a relationship with community education that could broaden (the museum’s) influence on the schools is making that museum live in the Gilbert public schools much more so than it has in the past," said district Superintendent Brad Barrett.
Kolar began working at the museum May 4, though her position didn’t come before the school board until June.
Board president Helen Hollands was the dissenting vote, and member Traci Klein was absent.
"I just felt it was a direction that I didn’t think I wanted to see the district go in," Hollands said. "It does put us at some liability, although small. I do think there is a cost associated with it, although small."
State law permits public schools to operate and receive funding for community school programs designed to further "academic and skill development for all citizens."
Prior to Kolar, volunteers operated the museum. The structured partnership between the museum and school district will improve learning opportunities for students, Kolar said.
"Getting more students to the museum and getting them more aware of local history is definitely one of our priorities," Kolar said.