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Pequot Lakes approves new contract for principals

The Pequot Lakes School Board approved the 2013-15 contract with principals at its Monday, April 21, meeting, securing a total increase in costs of $23,710, or 7.5 percent, over two years.

The new contract includes a salary increase of 4 percent the first year and 3 percent the second year, along with an increase of life insurance coverage to $200,000 and an increase of the duty stipend to $750. The district’s health insurance contribution was reduced to $7,086 to match the teachers’ contract, and the difference of $5,164 was shifted over to salary.

There was also a correction made to the middle school principal’s salary to create “a more normal spread” between elementary, middle school and high school principals’ salaries.

School board member Mike Erholtz and Superintendent Chris Lindholm met in negotiations with high school Principal Chip Rankin and elementary school Principal Dave Endicott on Feb. 17, March 10 and March 31. According to a memo Lindholm wrote, early discussions about creating steps similar to those in teacher contracts did not end up in the final agreement.

Middle school Principal Sue Sergent will see the most significant jump in salary from the previous year. According to 2013 Minnesota Department of Education data, Sergent earned an average administrative salary of $74,230, nearly $9,000 lower than the elementary principal and $24,000 less than the high school principal.

The new contract includes a base salary of $94,805 the first year and $102,814 the second year for the middle school principal. The elementary principal will earn $90,336 the first year and $98,211 the second year, and the high school principal, who has 220 contract days compared to 210 for the other two principals, will receive $107,323 the first year and $110,543 the next.

The board also approved a new contract for Kid Konnection coordinator Ivanna Buchite and the addition of three full-time equivalent positions (FTEs) for the 2014-15 school year. There will be an increase to full time for middle level counselor Alison Ross, funded from compensatory funds, and .5 FTEs for early childhood education, which will be funded by an increase in revenue due to increased enrollment.

The approved recommendation included an addition of 1.0 FTE in secondary tech ed/business funded from the unreserved fund balance and an addition of 1.0 FTE for an elementary interventionist funded from compensatory funds.

According to a memo from Lindholm, input from the community regarding the strategic plan and “the need to develop a more robust system of interventions for our students who struggle” were part of his recommendation to add the FTEs.

“The investment is sustainable for at least two years with fund balance, but it will require looking into increasing revenues down the road — most likely through local optional revenue dollars,” he wrote.

Contracts with teachers have yet to be settled, although Lindholm said the next negotiation session is tentatively scheduled for May 12. More than 80 people attended Monday night’s board meeting, many of whom were teachers who wore matching blue Education Minnesota Pequot Lakes (EMPL) T-shirts and buttons that read, “Enrollment is up...Budget is up...Settle up!”

The board closed its meeting to plan for negotiations with EMPL.

In other business, the board:

• Heard a student council report from the junior class president, Lucas Mumm, who stated the council purchased a new mascot costume as was discussed at the last board meeting.

Mumm reported the council has $6,500 in its account and is discussing “worthy areas” to use the money, including the Annie Stork memorial garden, the junior hallway mural and the council’s banquet on May 23. Student council class elections will be held Thursday, May 8.

• Heard an update from Lindholm on strategic planning. He said the administrative team is designing vision cards and working to determine metrics to use to determine whether progress is being made on the vision statement.

• Acknowledged tenure for staff who’ve met requirements: first-grade teacher Cassandra Amsden, physical education teacher Kristen Harsha, middle level science teacher Matthew Ingman and middle level counselor Ross.

• Approved the retirement of Marlene Hines, special education teacher, at the end of the school year, and the resignations of paraprofessional Stacy Littman, health paraprofessional Heather Tweed and high school social studies teacher Abbie Schramm.

• Agreed to hire new staff: middle level boys’ track coach Laura Flowers, middle level girls’ track coach Suzy Hurin, director of buildings & grounds Mike Renford, elementary principal Melissa Hesch and Spanish instructor Jamison Wagner.

• Approved non-renewal of four paraprofessionals due to the possible lack of need for their positions for 2014-15: Tracee Colgrove, Amy Gordon, China Held and Gina Kosloski.

• Accepted donations totaling more than $3,200 for uses including the transportation costs for the girls’ state basketball tournament, the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts summer production and the high school’s Positive Behavior Inter-ventions and Supports program, among others.

Chelsey Perkins can be reached at Follow her at and on Twitter @PEJ_Chelsey.

Chelsey Perkins
Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.
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