Contract approved for Rush City principals

School Board schedules first makeup day for students, learns preschool tuition is cheaper than neighboring schools—

The Rush City School Board on Feb. 20 approved the principal master agreement for 2013-15, but hardly in typical fashion.

After the original motion to approve the agreement failed on a 3-3 vote, the board considered revisiting negotiations or making another motion. Ultimately, board members opted to close the public hearing on a personnel issue, and when they reopened the meeting, the same motion — with no changes to the contract — passed 4-2.

Voting for the principal agreement were Matt Perreault, Teri Umbreit, Scott Anderson and Scott Tryon. Voting against were Stefanie Folkema and Brenda Nessel. Anderson originally voted against but changed his vote after the board reconvened from closed session.

After the meeting, Superintendent Vern Koepp said he could not divulge what the board discussed during the closed portion of the meeting since evaluation of an employee’s performance can be kept private under the Minnesota Open Meeting law. Still, public bodies are supposed to give a report on its conclusions at the next open meeting.

Koepp did say the contract contains new items including two personal leave days, as all employees receive, and performance adjustments to the principals’ salaries.

For high school Principal Brent Stavig, his starting salary of $82,000 bumped to $88,000 and will increase again by 2 percent the first year ($90,000) and by 1.85 percent the second year ($92,000) of his new contract. The agreement marks Stavig’s first two-year contract since he was hired in May 2012.

Jacobson Elementary School Principal Melody Tenhoff’s base salary of $90,300 will increase over both of the contract years, too, ending at around $92,300.

Koepp, acknowledging the bigger jump in compensation for Stavig, said the board felt a performance adjustment was justified. Board members consider what other high school principals and administrative staff make, he noted, and they try to package it appropriately.

Meanwhile, a tentative agreement is in place for groups including the custodians, cooks and paraprofessionals. A vote on those contracts is anticipated in March. Also to be settled are agreements with the unorganized groups and individuals including the directors of the Food Service and Early Childhood departments and those in the administrative office.

In other news:

• Due to the recent snow day, Koepp said the first makeup day for students has been scheduled for Monday, April 21. The board also identified possible makeup days when adopting the calendar for the 2014-15 school year. Next year’s school calendar can be found in the district office and on the district website.

• Following a discussion on preschool tuition, the board agreed to raise the rate for sections meeting three times a week on a half-day basis (from $90 to $100 a month) and those meeting two days a week (from $65 to $75). Despite these increases, Early Childhood Director Julie Thom said the tuition is still lower than neighboring schools. While the preschool has been running a deficit, scholarship and grant funds are available to families in need.

• Board members directed administrators to evaluate district programs and positions for possible reductions for the 2014-15 school year. It was noted that no reductions to staff or programs are anticipated at this time.

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