Mpls. sets school pay policy

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2011 - 9:48 PM

The school board also reviewed another part of the plan preparing for an expected surge in enrollment.

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Bernadeia Johnson

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The Minneapolis school board has approved a policy requiring Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson to report pay raises for administrators, but won't force her to get the board's approval before awarding them.

The policy change comes more than three months after board members learned, from the Star Tribune, that Johnson gave $270,000 in retroactive raises to administrators in July, when the district had cut the jobs of teachers and other staff.

Facing community pressure, the board withdrew an earlier proposal, which would have required Johnson to report all employee raises before granting them.

The new rule won't prevent Johnson from handing out retroactive raises again, the school district's attorney and board members admitted last month.

The measure passed 6-2 with board members Carla Bates and Hussein Samatar voting against it.

"I would like to have been informed," Samatar told his colleagues. "I don't believe this policy will be different than what we had before."

Raises would be restricted only by the predetermined salary ranges for each job, the policy reads.

Rebecca Gagnon, chair of the school board's Policy Committee, said the board backed down from the original plan because members didn't want to micromanage the superintendent.

"We trust Dr. Johnson to do [her job] and do it quite well," Gagnon said last month.

The new policy grants Johnson discretion to give raises to administrators for any of five reasons: enhancing equity; recruiting or retaining employees; rewarding performance; providing a salary adjustment for all employees in the group, or for other "good cause," the policy reads.

Until Johnson submits an annual report, she won't have to report administrators' raises unless they stretch outside the salary range for a job. After having no input on the initial policy, the superintendent helped shaped the version approved by her bosses.

Enrollment plan

School board members also reviewed the second part of a $43.5 million proposal to expand, renovate and reopen school buildings to deal with thousands of new students the district expects to enroll by 2015.

Under the plan, the district would reopen Howe and Folwell schools and shift attendance boundaries for others to accommodate the extra students.

Parents and staff members from Ramsey School showed up to voice their displeasure with plans to shift all students to Folwell.

The school board has already approved $27 million of the plan, which would cover additions and renovations: $11 million at Lake Harriet School's Lower Campus, 4030 Chowen Av. S., and $16 million for Lake Nokomis School's Keewaydin campus, 5209 30th Av. S.

Board members will further discuss the plan during their Nov. 15 meeting and intend to vote on the remaining provisions during their Nov. 29 meeting. Money from bond sales and the district's general and deferred maintenance budgets would cover the cost of construction and architecture fees.

Board member to resign

Board member Lydia Lee announced her intent to resign Jan. 1, citing family concerns that will take her away from the district.

Her colleagues will have several weeks to select her successor. She was elected in 2004.

"You've really served our district well," board chairwoman Jill Davis told Lee.

Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491

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