CROSBY -- Some residents may feel the Crosby-Ironton School Board had bad timing in settling the 1998-2001 contracts for administrators, but they still plan to support the referendum in November.
"It's a public relations nightmare," said James Christenson, C-I teacher and a member of the referendum committee. "It (settlements) stirred up stuff and it was bad timing, but we still need the money."
The district will ask for an estimated $6.05 million to be levied over a 10-year period, or about $605,000 a year. The funds from the referendum would be used to maintain current programs and to add programs the district lost due to cuts it made in the past.
If this referendum passes, the district's general education revenue would increase the per pupil unit by $318.26. Currently it is at $96.74; with the increase it would be $415.
The reason some say the contracts were settled at a bad time was because of the high percentage increases some administrators received in salaries/benefits. The superintendent earned a 5.1 percent increase; Dean Ogg, senior and junior high school principal, 8.81 percent (increased work days); Mark Redemske, elementary principal, 10.56 percent increase (increased work days); and Barb Neprud, community education director, 7.35 percent increase.
Linda Peterson, business manager, received a $6,000 increase in salary/benefits -- from $39,500 to $45,500. Peterson's contract was based on pay equity and what neighboring district business managers were earning. It also was based on her first year's performance.
The teachers received a 6.02 percent increase in their contracts, including salary and benefits -- a 3.09 percent increase for 1999-2000 and a 2.93 percent increase for 2000-01.
Peterson said before negotiations start, it is determined what money is available and then the money is split among the bargaining units. Negotiations then determine how much money will be spent on salaries. The contract increases were based on a scale in the union contract -- steps, length of time in the district and lanes, the amount of educational credits a person has, said Peterson.
"Wages are not based on performance," she said. "Non-union contracts are based on pay equity information, salaries paid in other districts, increased contract time, changes in the responsibilities of the position and on other information provided during the negotiation process."
"The timing was interesting," said resident Julie Hofius. "But the teachers need to get on with things. It's time to put it behind them."
"We hope the community will pull together and support the referendum," said Nicki Jacobs, special education teacher at C-I. "The children's education is what is at stake here."
Christenson said the district can no longer cut staff and programs and the community cannot rely on state funds alone.
"People are starting to come together, but the district still has to gain trust back from the community," he said. "Shelly Johnson (interim superintendent) is doing a nice job to keep things neutral."
Mary Zillmer, business owner, said she supports the referendum and hopes everyone else does. She said if the referendum does not pass, it will be a scary time for the children. She also added that the contracts were settled at a bad time, but it will not affect her decision.
Bart Johnston, another business owner, said he also supports the referendum.
"I have always supported the school, without the school our community would hurt," he said. "I have no opinion on the settlements. I do the best I can as a business owner and they (school board members) do the best they can. We elected them."
A legislative education summit for the school district will be 7:30 p.m. Monday in the high school auditorium to help inform the community about the referendum. Rep. Kris Hasskamp, DFL-Crosby, will moderate the session.
"There is a lot of things people need to hear," she said. "The C-I spirit is unique and the district needs to be the glue to hold it together."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.