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Bemidji School board approves pay raise for Hess

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Bemidji School Board member Bill Faver believes those who produce value should also gain value.

He, along with the majority of the board, took action Monday night to reward Superintendent Jim Hess with a pay raise.

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The board voted 5-1 to approve a 2.63 percent increase in Hess' salary for the 2010-11 school year; a 2.89 percent increase for 2011-12; and a 2.95 percent increase for 2012-13.

The superintendent's contract is for a term of three years commencing July 1, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

School board member Steven H. Johnson voted against the approval of Hess' contract, saying he didn't think a raise in Hess' contract was justified.

"It's not fair," Johnson said. "I thought we (the school board) were doing a good job, and we didn't get a raise. I don't think it's fair in these times. There are a lot of people out there that don't have jobs. I don't think, financially, it's the right thing to do."

Hess, who was hired as the superintendent in the summer of 2004, has completed two consecutive three-year term contracts. Throughout the current year's contract, which ends June 30, the superintendent's salary has been flat - at $125,000 - for each of the three years. Before 2007, Hess' yearly salary increased from $110,000 to $120,000 at $5,000 increments each year.

School board members John Pugleasa and Faver were in charge of the contract negotiations between the board and the superintendent, who is the only school district employee directly hired by the board.

According to Pugleasa, he and Faver chose to give Hess a raise in salary after they considered the flat salary rate he took during the current three-year term. They said consistent positive evaluations from the board played a role. They also felt it was important for the school district to keep the superintendent's pay at a mid-range level compared to other school districts in the state.

"We have appreciated (Hess') leadership in previous contracts," Faver said. "(His salary stayed) flat in the last round. He showed great leadership in tough times and has had positive evaluations. It was important to us to have consistency, and I think we achieved that."

In 2005-06, Bemidji School District's superintendent's base salary of $115,000 ranked on the lower end compared to Bemidji, Brainerd, East Grand Forks, Elk River, Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids, Moorhead and Willmar school districts. The average base salary that year among the eight school districts was $122,901. The highest was Elk River at $145,000.

According to Faver, Hess' current base salary of $125,000 is currently the lowest base salary compared to school districts in Alexandria, Austin, Bemidji, Faribault, Sauk Rapids, Winona, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Moorhead and Willmar. Moorhead's superintendent's base salary of $145,976 is the highest.

"Next year, with the increase, (Hess) should be at mid-point," Faver said in a phone interview after the meeting. "It's important to know that it's well within the range of contracts with teachers who got their steps and lanes."

During the meeting, Johnson voiced his concerns over approving a pay raise for the superintendent.

"I don't think it's financially the right thing to do," Stephen H. Johnson said. "As a group, we decided not to give ourselves a raise on the first of the year. I feel bad voting against (him), but I don't think I'd be doing my job as a board member if I voted for it."

Johnson also voted against the board's decision in 2006 to approve Hess' current contract.

Y awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

Bemidji School Board member Bill Faver believes those who produce value should also gain value.

He, along with the majority of the board, took action Monday night to reward Jim Hess with a pay raise.

The board voted 5-1 to approve a 2.63 percent increase in Hess' salary for the 2010-11 school year; a 2.89 percent increase for 2011-12; and a 2.95 percent increase for 2012-13.

The superintendent's contract is for a term of three years commencing July 1, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

School board member Steven H. Johnson voted against the approval of Hess' contract, saying he didn't think a raise in Hess' contract was justified.

"It's not fair," Johnson said. "I thought we (the school board) were doing a good job, and we didn't get a raise. I don't think it's fair in these times. There are a lot of people out there that don't have jobs. I don't think, financially, it's the right thing to do."

Hess, who was hired as the superintendent in the summer of 2004, has completed two consecutive three-year term contracts. Throughout the current year's contract, which ends June 30, the superintendent's salary has been flat - at $125,000 - for each of the three years. Before 2007, Hess' yearly salary increased from $110,000 to $120,000 at $5,000 increments each year.

School board members John Pugleasa and Faver were in charge of the contract negotiations between the board and the superintendent, who is the only school district employee directly hired by the board.

According to Pugleasa, he and Faver chose to give Hess a raise in salary after they considered the flat salary rate he took during the current three-year term. They said consistent positive evaluations from the board played a role. They also felt it was important for the school district to keep the superintendent's pay at a mid-range level compared to other school districts in the state.

"We have appreciated (Hess') leadership in previous contracts," Faver said. "(His salary stayed) flat in the last round. He showed great leadership in tough times and has had positive evaluations. It was important to us to have consistency, and I think we achieved that."

In 2005-06, Bemidji School District's superintendent's base salary of $115,000 ranked on the lower end compared to Bemidji, Brainerd, East Grand Forks, Elk River, Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids, Moorhead and Willmar school districts. The average base salary that year among the eight school districts was $122,901. The highest was Elk River at $145,000.

According to Faver, Hess' current base salary of $125,000 is currently the lowest base salary compared to school districts in Alexandria, Austin, Bemidji, Faribault, Sauk Rapids, Winona, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Moorhead and Willmar. Moorhead's superintendent's base salary of $145,976 is the highest.

"Next year, with the increase, (Hess) should be at mid-point," Faver said in a phone interview after the meeting. "It's important to know that it's well within the range of contracts with teachers who got their steps and lanes."

During the meeting, Johnson voiced his concerns over approving a pay raise for the superintendent.

"I don't think it's financially the right thing to do," Stephen H. Johnson said. "As a group, we decided not to give ourselves a raise on the first of the year. I feel bad voting against (him), but I don't think I'd be doing my job as a board member if I voted for it."

Johnson also voted against the board's decision in 2006 to approve Hess' current contract.

awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

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