School board approves new contract for superintendentIn the end, the debate about a new contract for District 196 superintendent Jane Berenz focused more on what it means to get a raise than on whether Berenz’s performance actually warranted one.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
In the end, the debate about a new contract for District 196 superintendent Jane Berenz focused more on what it means to get a raise than on whether Berenz’s performance actually warranted one.
With Berenz’s first three-year contract set to expire at the beginning of June, District 196 School Board members approved a new three-year deal Monday night. The new contract raises Berenz’s base salary from $185,000 to $192,000, gives her five additional sick days and five additional vacation days each year and changes the district’s contribution to a 403B retirement fund from a flat amount to 3 percent of her salary.
That last change will increase the district’s contribution from $4,000 to $5,700 in the contract’s first year, and the percentage will increase to 4 percent in the second year of the deal and 5 percent in the third year.
The raise will be the first Berenz has gotten since she took over from former superintendent John Currie, who was paid $193,000 in his final year in the district.
School board chair Jackie Magnuson, who negotiated the deal with Berenz, said the contract puts Berenz’s salary near the average of eight comparable districts in the Twin Cities area.
“We were looking for fairness, like we always do,” Magnuson said.
The new deal didn’t sit well with all board members, though. Board member Mike Roseen objected to giving Berenz what amounts to a 3.7 percent raise at a time when the district has asked other employees to go without raises.
“We’ve settled every group here and we’ve given them 0-0 (percent raises in each year of their contract). Now we’re giving the highest-paid employee just under 4 percent,” Roseen said. “It’s unfair to all of those other employees.
“I approve of what Jane’s doing, but I have a question about how we treated our other employees in this last contract negotiation.”
Other board members, though, disagreed with Roseen’s terms. They called what other employee groups have had a soft freeze -- meaning teachers, for example, could still get paid more from year to year by virtue of having more years in the district or by improving their level of education -- while Berenz has received no raise during the same period.
What is typically discussed as a raise in contract negotiations with teachers is more accurately an increase to the formula used to determine those longevity- and education based increases.
“I’ve got a daughter in the district as a teacher and she’s gotten a lot more than a 3.7 percent raise,” board member Rob Duchscher said.
Duchscher and others gave Berenz credit for leading the way in the district’s push to ask employees to go without raises.
“In my opinion, we’ve been underpaying her for three years and it’s good that we’re bringing her up,” board member Gary Huusko said.
School board members voted 6-1 to approve the contract.