Silva to get $40K for move from Woodbury to St. Paul

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 5, 2011 - 7:20 AM

The school district's superintendent will be reimbursed for her moving costs when she relocates from Woodbury.

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Valeria Silva

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St. Paul Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva has been given a $40,000 nudge by the School Board to move from Woodbury to St. Paul.

The board last month amended Silva's contract to include a relocation package to pay for her move to St. Paul by the end of this year.

Silva, who currently owns a home in Woodbury, worked in the district for 25 years before being hired to lead the district in December 2009. When she was named superintendent, board members agreed it wasn't a good environment for Silva to sell her house. Instead, she bought a condo in St. Paul.

"Given the depressed real estate market, the board at the time thought that it wasn't fair to her to have her sell her house at a much reduced rate so that was recognized in her employment contract," said Jeff Lalla, board attorney.

Board members have now decided they'd like her to make the move.

By living in the district, "all the matters that affect the district are also affecting her personally as well as professionally," said Elona Street-Stewart, board chairwoman. "This is nothing unusual or unique to our district."

Sandy Gundlach, the director of school board services for the Minnesota School Board Association, agreed that it's not uncommon for board members to offer superintendents relocation packages.

Board members often believe superintendents living in the districts they serve "increases and improves their accessibility and visibility, and helps develop good working relationships with community members," Gundlach said. "It also helps the superintendents better understand the district's needs."

Silva declined to comment.

The relocation money can pay for things such as moving expenses or mortgage brokers. Money will be reimbursed to Silva after she spends it.

The amount of Silva's relocation package was determined with the help of local housing experts, who gave board members estimates on the price of moving in today's market along with a time estimate of how long it could take to sell a home.

Street-Stewart said she didn't expect Silva to spend the entire $40,000.

The amount isn't out of range with what previous St. Paul superintendents have received, Street-Stewart said.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who was hired in 2006, was given $35,000 to move from Washington, D.C. Her predecessor, Patricia Harvey, was also given $35,000 to move from Washington.

Both superintendents, who lived in transitional housing before moving, used the maximum amount, Lalla said.

The board also provided a relocation package of $15,000 to Curman Gaines, who headed the district from 1991 to 1998, to move from Woodbury to St. Paul. But Kevin Huepenbecker, a parent who is also running for the school board this fall, said the money could have been better spent.

"She's worked in the district for almost two years," Huepenbecker said. "She just lives in Woodbury. It's not like it's Ohio. I think in the economic time we have, spending $40,000 to move 12 miles or less, I wouldn't do it.

"It's money that we don't need to spend, and it's amazing that not one board member would ask that question."

Daarel Burnette II • 651-735-1695 Twitter: @DaarelStrib

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