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Published June 27 2010

West Fargo School Board seeks salary increase

West Fargo School Board members are looking to hike their annual salaries up to double the amount.

The $3,000 a year the seven board members have received since 2006 isn’t in line, board members said, with other public entities or the increase in their responsibilities.

“Not that all of us do it for the money,” Board President Tom Gentzkow said, “but it’s nice to receive some compensation.”

On Monday, the board is expected to approve a raise – possibly to $6,000 a year. If so, it’d take effect July 1.

“We need to put a dollar figure on (our) value, and if we’re going to do that, the best way to do it is to look at what other entities are making that are similar to us,” board Vice President Karen Nitzkorski said. “And again, we don’t match.”

West Fargo city commissioners receive $7,425 a year, and Park Board members receive $1,885.

In July 2006, School Board members approved boosting their annual salaries by $2,000 after a long-standing salary of $1,000.

Receiving another raise, board member Angela Korsmo said, isn’t necessary; she expects to be the lone opponent.

“I don’t think we need to get paid great amounts for it,” Korsmo said. “What other officeholders get … I’m not sure that has any real relevance to what we get paid.”

Board member Ben Koppelman said, though, that the board should periodically reexamine the salary.

“If you kind of turn back the clock four or five years ago, I believe that the expectation that the public had for the school board to be hands on to fix everything under the sun was a lot different back then,” he said. “There’s just more responsibilities than there used to be.”

In Moorhead, school board members have received $8,400 a year since 2006. Fargo board members receive $12,000 a year; they raised it by $3,000 in 2008.

There’s no talk of hiking salaries again, Fargo School Board President Dan Fremling said, and if there was, board member Jim Johnson added, it wouldn’t pass.

“Until the economy improves, it would be a pretty dumb thing for a board to do,” Johnson said. “(It’s) not the message the voters want to hear after just electing new people. They (West Fargo) could get some pretty serious backlash.”

School board salaries

Bismarck: $6,600/year

Central Cass (Casselton, N.D.): $100/meeting, $30/committee

Fargo: $12,000/year

Grand Forks: $1,000/year

Kindred: $20/meeting

Minot: $4,800/year

Moorhead: $8,400/year

Northern Cass (Hunter, N.D.):

$25/meeting (approx. $300/year)

West Fargo: $3,000/year

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515