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School board members agree to take a salary cut

Tim Burke is getting the pay cut he asked for two years ago.

Board members voted 4-2 Monday to cut the salaries paid to school board members. The move cuts the board chair's salary from $5,250 to $4,500 and board members' salaries from $4,200 to $3,600. The board also voted to eliminate a $30 supplemental payment for meetings outside of regular board meetings, and a $30 hourly payment for any of those non-regular board meetings that run longer than three hours.

Board member Tim Burke made the motion, departing from a recommendation included in the board's agenda packet to keep salaries the same. The motion was similar to one Burke made in January of 2009, at his first meeting as a board member. In 2009 he proposed cutting the board chair's salary to $4,200 and board members' salaries to $3,600. That motion failed on a 5-1 vote.

Burke got resistance this year from Julie McKnight and Julie Singewald, the only other holdovers from last year's board. Singewald said the salary is a small compensation to make up for the time her board duties require her to take away from her family.

"My family has given up a lot for my time dedicated to this board and will continue to give up a lot," Singewald said. "That money I use kind of as a reward to my family for the time I have spent away from them."

McKnight made a similar statement, and called the board salaries a tiny part of the district's overall budget. She also said eliminating the supplemental payments for meetings outside of regular board business means she will not be able to take time off of work for meetings during the day. The board has a work session scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 24 and has talked about holding a board retreat soon. Board retreats typically take place during the day.

"If I don't work, I don't get paid," McKnight said.

Under the new salary structure, the board as a whole will be paid $22,500 this year. Under the old salary structure, discounting payments for outside meetings, the board received $26,250. That is a small part of expenditures that are expected to total more than $60 million in 2012. But some board members saw the reduction as a symbolic gesture in a year when budget cuts are looming.

"What Mr. Burke proposed is a good faith (gesture) not just to the residents, but to the staff," said new board member Brian Treakle. "If we don't show that we're contributing ourselves, I don't know how we can look teachers in the face and say, 'You have to go home, but we're going to keep our salaries.'"

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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