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Pay freeze for BEA administration

By Staff | Aug 17, 2009

Mary Eckhardt

Current economic conditions have required some school districts across the state to take drastic measures and make cuts.

The administrators of Blue Earth Area School District are doing their part.

Monday night the School Board approved a master contract for the district’s three principals and superintendent calling for a two-year pay freeze.

Board member Mary Eckhardt, who also serves on the negotiations team, says less state aid and an ailing economy played a big role in administrators not seeking a pay raise.

Elementary school principal Kevin Grant has served the longest of the three principals and says it was a unanimous consensus their salaries remain the same.

“We recognize it’s tough for the state and here locally. We felt we’re just fortunate to have a job,” says Grant. “We thought we need to be realistic in times like this.”

Under their contract, High school principal Jack Eustice will receive an annual salary of $89,500; Grant, $86,500; and middle school principal, Melissa McGuire, $78,000.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy will be paid $102,716 a year. His salary may be modified, but cannot be reduced during the term of the contract.The board would need consent of the principals to change any provisions of their contract.

Eckhardt also is involved in negotiations with the local teachers union.

The two sides have met several times, says union negotiator Roger Schoenfelder.

There are about 100 teachers in the district and their contracts expired July 1 of this year. The new agreement would be for two years.

Schoenfelder calls the meetings so far “progressive and non-adversarial.”

Both parties are trying to achieve a fair contract, he says, that meets the needs of the district and teachers.

Schoenfelder says he doesn’t think there’s any pressure for the teachers to also accept a pay freeze.

“Whether it’s this year or 20 years ago, for every contract the district and union has dealt with the economy … whether it’s a boom or bust. As teachers we generally tend to be aware and very sympathetic to that,” says Schoenfelder. “We certainly don’t want to put the district in a situation where it is hamstrung.”

A new agreement must be reached by a state-imposed deadline of Jan. 15 or the district will lose state funding.

In other financial news, the board unanimously approved a resolution calling for a levy referendum.

The Nov. 3 ballot issue would ask district voters to renew a five-year property tax levy of $650 per pupil. The levy generates more than $900,000 annually.

If the referendum is passed, the state would provide 60 percent of the funding and the district 40 percent.