District 16 OKs raise for principals

District 16 school principals will receive a 4.08 percent total package increase in their salary over two years.

The nine principals, including principals and assistant principals at Spring Lake Park High School, and principals at Westwood Middle and Intermediate schools and the district’s three elementary schools, have been working without a contract since June 30, 2012.

The school board last month unanimously approved the principal employees’ contract for the years 2012-14.

Total cost of settlement for the new two-year contract is $1.41 million. The new contract, retroactive to last summer, will cost the district $39,000 in new dollars.

In a further breakdown, principals will receive a 3.17 percent increase in salary the first year of the contract and an .88 percent increase in the second year. The contract calls for no increase in health benefits for the next two contract years.

The new contract period is effective July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014.

Under the former two-year contract, the districts’ principals took a salary freeze with a 1.69 percent total contract increase in health benefits over the two-year period.

“This year, the principals came to the table knowing there wasn’t going to be a lot of finances available,” said Ryan Stromberg, District 16’s human resources director, who represented the district at the bargaining table.

Stromberg met with the principals’ representatives Paula Hoff, principal at Westwood Middle School, and Tom Larson, principal at Westwood Intermediate School, twice in negotiations.

“Negotiations between the two sides was pleasant and amicable,” Hoff said in an email to the Life. “We had a professional conversation.”

The district received the principals’ initial proposal in May, but because of tending to other district priorities – the district’s facilities study to address a growing enrollment and other unsettled contracts, such as the cooks and custodians, to name a few – both sides resumed talks on the principals’ contract in December.

“After having a frozen contract for two years, we are very pleased to have reached what we believe to be a fair settlement,” Hoff said.

The largest change in the principals’ contracts is the elimination of salary steps. Instead of steps, the district has gone to two levels of pay for its principals: an entry level and a second, higher-level pay schedule designed to allow the superintendent more discretion in determining salary, according to Stromberg.

Under the new contract, a high school principal will receive up to $119,000 on the entry level and up to $125,000 on the higher level.

In the previous contract, a step one principal earned $111,720 and a step six principal earned $121,720.

In the new contract, an assistant principal is paid up to $101,000 on the entry level and up to $107,000 on the higher, second level.

The 2010 and 2011 school year contract called for $93,330 at the first step and $103,330 at the sixth step.

Elementary principals, under the new contract, will be paid up to $113,000 at the entry level and up to $119,000 at the higher, second level.

The former contract called for $105,040 at step one and $115,040 at step six.

The contract settlement falls within the board and district’s negotiating parameters, Stromberg said.

“We’re fortunate that we have a great group of principals that we want to keep here as long as possible,” he said.

Said Hoff, “We are grateful to have a positive working relationship with district office staff and the school board in all situations.”

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]