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Published June 29 2010

West Fargo School Board members get $1,000 salary increases

A bump in pay for West Fargo School Board members this year wasn’t as high as budgeted.

The board members voted 6-1 on Monday to hike their annual salaries by $1,000 – raising their salaries to $4,000 a year.

Officials had budgeted for as high as a raise to $6,000 a year – doubling their compensation, a move that was met with some distaste publicly.

“It’s never an easy conversation,” board member Duane Hanson said. But “we’ve all spent plenty of time away from what we do to get paid (to serve on the board).”

The $1,000 a year raise takes effect on Thursday and was lower than budgeted for the next year. Next spring, however, the board decided, they’ll revisit the issue during teacher contract negotiations.

Vice President Karen Nitzkorski said they could look then at giving board members the same percentage in raises as teachers get each negotiation year.

Until then, board members justified on Monday the hike in salary due to the increase in their responsibilities and cost of living as well as making their pay comparable to other public entities.

Of the seven board members, Angela Korsmo was the lone opponent.

“I see it as a person’s responsibility,” she said. “I don’t think you have to quantify the value (of our jobs) with money.”

Board members have received $3,000 a year since 2006, when it was boosted by $2,000 after a longstanding salary of $1,000 a year.

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

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.

“We haven’t kept pace necessarily,” Nitzkorski said on Monday.

Monday was also the last meeting for Hanson and board member Tom Gentzkow.

After 10 years on the board, Gentzkow decided not to seek re-election. And this month, after 11 years on the board, Hanson was elected to serve on the West Fargo City Commission.

New board members Judy Kvaale and Dave Olson start July 12.

“Both of these men have led during trying times,” Nitzkorski said of Gentzkow and Hanson. “I appreciate your leadership.”

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