by Tammy Sakry
The St. Francis School Board brought in the new year with a new board.
After being sworn in Jan. 9, the board, which includes its three new members, voted in Marsha Van Denburgh as the board chairperson, newcomer Janet Glover as vice chairperson and new Boardmember Suzanne Erkel as the board clerk.
All three positions were filled on 4-3 votes, with Van Denburgh and the three new board members Matt Rustad, Glover and Erkel voting in favor.
Boardmember Harry Grams was unanimously elected treasurer.
While most of the meeting was organizational in nature, the board did discuss whether its compensation should change.
Since 2006, the board members have received $4,152 annually and the chairperson receives $4,760 annually.
The compensation also includes a $30 stipend for when board members attend negotiating committees, which are currently being handled by the human resources and business services directors.
The stipend would only be paid if board members are requested to attend by the negotiating parties.
After reviewing what other school boards receive has compensation, Van Denburgh, who has historically voted against pay increases, said she wanted the board to discuss a cost of living increase.
“We are quite low” in comparison to other districts and she is concerned that the board may be underpaying itself, she said.
Looking at the compensation from area school districts, Centennial’s school board chairperson receives $5,342 annually and the school board members $4,546 annually, Van DenBurgh said.
The highest compensation on the list is the Mounds View School District where the chairperson receives $7,000 annually and the board members $6,500, she said.
As a district, “we try to pay our employees based on the standards that are out there. I am not sure if we are underpaying ourselves or not,” Van DenBurgh said.
To the north of St. Francis, the Cambridge-Isanti School Board chairperson receives $4,200 annually and the school board member receive $3,000 annually.
The Cambridge-Isanti board members also receive $65 for all standing and ad hoc committee meetings under four hours and $130 for meetings over four hours.
In the Elk River school district, the chairperson receives $6,900 annual while the board members receive $6,000 a year.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District chairperson receives $15,600 a year and the school board members receive $14,400 annually.
Increasing the compensation has been discussed a number of times during his 10 years on the school board and has increased only a few times when there was additional money, said Boardmember David Anderson.
It may be low in comparison to the duties, but he wants the compensation rate to stay the same, he said.
“Given the financial status of the district, I don’t think it would look good to take an increase at this time, Grams said.
Serving on the school board is not about the money. People do it to serve the district, he said.
When the board is asking the employees to “toe the line, I don’t know if now is the time for an increase,” said Boardmember Amy Kelly.
If the board gets a compensation increase, the board should find a way for residents to vote on it, said Erkel.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org