16% increase called ‘reasonable’ and is more comparable with districts its size

by Jim Boyle

Editor

The Elk River Area School Board increased its pay for the first time in more than two decades at its Jan. 10 organizational meeting.

School Board members will now be paid $7,000 a year, and the School Board chairperson will be paid $8,000 annually. It’s an increase of $1,000 annually for School Board members and $1,100 for the chairperson. The change will go into effect immediately.

School Board Member Joel Nelson proposed the change at the organizational meeting “because it hasn’t been changed in a while and to keep up with districts of our size.”

The raise was approved on a 7-0 vote.

School Board Member Shane Steinbrecher called the raise a reasonable increase, noting pay hasn’t been dealt with for 20 years.

The last time board pay was changed was in January 2002, and it was done then to facilitate a cut amidst a time of deep budget cuts.

The decision was made to pay board members a monthly stipend of $500 a month, and the board chairperson a monthly stipend $575 a month, rather than getting paid for individual meetings they attend. The shift was proposed as a way to cut costs by about $10,000 annually.

The district paid out $52,000 in 1999 and $53,000 in 2000 and 2001. The new method capped the cost at $42,900 going forward.

Then School Board Chair Mark Strater called the move “almost unheard of.” Board members considered the move a contribution to deep cuts that were being made throughout the school district.

Then Superintendent Alan Jensen said District 728 School Board Members were already underpaid compared to other school districts. He suggested reevaluating board pay in 2003, but that suggestion was met with reticence.

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