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Mila Koumpilova, Published July 15 2009

Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton superintendent to forego pay hike

Hoping to set the tone for staff salary negotiations this summer, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Superintendent Randy Bruer will forego a 2.3 percent pay increase built into his contract for the next school year.

Noncertified staff in the district followed suit by tentatively agreeing to a pay freeze. The district is gearing up for contract negotiations with teachers and administrators, and the head of the local teachers group says some sort of freeze will likely figure in discussions.

Bruer’s salary will remain at $108,000 a year. The average D-G-F teacher salary is about $47,000.

“I am putting myself out there, taking a leadership role, because there’s no extra money this year from the state,” said Bruer, who’s heading into his second year at D-G-F.

The school board is set to approve changes to Bruer’s three-year contract at tonight’s meeting.

Bruer is among a number of top Minnesota school administrators in this area who passed on a pay hike this year after the state froze school funding and Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced districts will get less of their money up front.

In Breckenridge, teachers agreed to a “soft” freeze, which honors seniority step increases but doesn’t give a cost-of-living hike.

D-G-F has enjoyed fairly stable student enrollment and finances since the community passed a levy referendum in 2007. This spring, it trimmed about $160,000 from its budget.

Bruer said two tweaks to his contract were mere formalities: It will now include a $500 auto maintenance stipend and exclude a ban on outside money-making activities. Bruer said he might want to mentor new superintendents through the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, which fetches a small stipend.

Support staff in the district has agreed to a pay freeze contingent on other employee groups accepting a freeze as well, Bruer said.

School Board Chairman Jerry Anderson said staff will likely see an almost 5-percent increase in health insurance premiums.

“We don’t want anybody going backwards,” he said about compensation. “We’ll definitely take that into consideration.”

Dan Boyd, the teacher’s union head, said teachers haven’t discussed their compensation strategy yet.

“Teachers I personally don’t think are opposed to some sort of soft freeze,” said Boyd, stressing that’s his opinion alone. “You look at the no new funding, and teachers don’t want to break the piggy bank, but we still want a fair deal.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529