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School board salaries will stay the same in 2010

Salaries for members of the Farmington School Board will stay the same in 2010.

Board members voted 5-1 Thursday to keep the board chair's salary at $5,250 per year and board members' salaries at $4,200 per year. Board members will also get $30 per meeting for negotiation sessions, retreats and other meetings outside the regular two per month.

The salaries will remain unchanged despite a request from board member Tim Burke to reduce the chair's salary to $4,500 and board members' salaries to $3,600 and to eliminate the $30 payment for other meetings. Burke, who made a similar suggestion when the salaries were set last January, said the reduction was a sign of the board's commitment to sound finances at a time when funding levels are far from certain. In 2009 the district sold bonds to pay for retirement benefits for many of its teachers and $5 million in aid anticipation certificates -- essentially a loan until delayed state funding shows up.

"The financial situation in this district is going to get worse and not better and it's not just because of what's happening here, but what's happening in St. Paul," Burke said. "We're going to be under a lot of pressure financially in this district."

Burke got a second for his motion, but little support beyond that. Other board members called the salaries small compensation for the amount of work they do.

"This particular position does take away from your family," board member Julie McKnight said. "I personally take this and it's a way that I have of giving back to my family."

Board member Veronica Walter called the reduction symbolic, and said the board should be focused on decisions that make a more tangible impact on the district's bottom line.

The salary cut Burke proposed would save the district $3,750 per year. That's tiny compared to the district's overall budget. But Burke pointed out it would be enough to buy a smart board or other school supplies.

The board last increased its salary in 2008, when members approved a 5 percent increase in salaries and a $5 increase in the special-meeting stipend.

Other matters

Thursday's special organizational meeting, held because not all board members could attend the first regular meeting of the new year, also included votes on board positions.

Bob Heman will remain for a second year as board chair. Veronica Walter was chosen as vice-chair, Julie McKnight as clerk and Julie Singewald as treasurer.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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