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DPS salary increase one step closer

Dickinson Public School administrators will get an 8.37 percent increase in their base salaries over the next two years if approved by the School Board, officials decided at a DPS Administrative Collaborative Bargaining Committee meeting Thursday at the Central Administration Office.

The increase will provide an average pay raise of more than $1,700 a year for each administrator.

Members of the Administrative Collaborative Bargaining Committee, which is composed of administrators and School Board members, expressed frustration.

"The question that I've been asked by several people in different ways is what's changed?" DPS School Board President Kris Fehr asked. "What is justifying the increase?"

Committee members decided to get feedback after an agreement was not reached during a Monday meeting. Administrators said their peers agreed with an 8.37 base increase, but School Board members said they got negative feedback.

The increase will put the average overall salary increase to 9.5 percent over two years after administrators' salaries are put into a system which adds extra money for several factors, including years of experience and education.

Administrators were pulling for a 10 percent overall increase and School Board members said they wanted a 9 percent increase during Monday's meeting.

"The feedback that we're getting is that 9 (percent) is too high," Fehr said.

Director of Instruction Melanie Kathrein said the cost of living has increased and salaries need to be competitive.

"First of all, you are going to encounter several administrative retirements in the very near future," she said. "The administrative pool across the state is very low, so if the jobs for administrators are so easy and pay so much money, why are there so few people doing it?

"You need to be able to recruit good people. We know through proven research that having good teachers and good administrators is critical for student learning."

Heart River Elementary School Principal Sherry Libis said a lot has changed in the district in two years.

"We have looked at our professional learning communities and we're changing how we do business and that's been hard," Libis said. "Response to intervention is another issue that we're working on and learning how to deal differently with any students ... how can we provide enrichment or intervention to them?"

School Board Member Jason Hanson said the difference between 9 and 10 percent isn't much, but the public perceives that it is. It equates to $10,950 over two years for all, he said.

The first year administrators will receive a base salary increase of 5.45 percent and a 2.92 percent increase the second year.

Fehr said she didn't receive as much negative feedback from the community when DPS teachers received a base increase of 7.8 percent over two years, which equates to an average overall increase of 10.35 percent over two years.

"But their average salary is a lot lower," Fehr said.

There will be a special School Board meeting to discuss the tentative agreement but a date has not been set.