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SJSD Principals Mulling Over Contracts

Principals and board members respond to pay agreement.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The debate over salaries for St. Joseph School District principals might be over for now, but some are still smarting over it.

District officials say the contracts approved at its meeting Monday night will result in lower pay for principals. That has some administrators worried that some principals will look for other jobs.

Finalizing principals' contracts for next year might have come too late for a couple administrators according to the superintendent.

When asked by board member Dennis Snethen if the district has lost any administrators because of contracts coming so late, Superintendent Fred Czerwonka said he was expecting at least two resignations by the end of the week.

Principals in the St. Joseph School District had been waiting for an ad-hoc committee to make recommendations on what to do with salaries for next year. While contracts were originally expected to be completed in May, the process had been drawn out because of controversial $5,000 stipends included.

In the end, the Board of Education accepted the committee's recommendation of a two percent salary increase, matching what teachers will receive, but a removal of the $5,000 stipends.

"What I can tell you is it's a personal decision and I hate to see anyone go," said Coleman Elementary Principal Mike Otto, who will be moving to the new Oak Grove Elementary next fall.

"If people don't feel like they've been taken care of in their setting, that's an option for them," he said. "I'm not saying that's the case here but I hate to see a teacher go, staff member, administrator, because then it takes time to build that relationship back."

Other principals we talked to were not happy with the final contract result. At the board meeting, board member Lori Prussman said she understands why some might be looking for jobs elsewhere.

"Those that have told me for mental health reasons it's easier to drive 30-40 minutes away (for another job). I can't blame them. I really can't. It breaks my heart," she said."

Principal Otto considers Monday's decision the beginning of closure.

"The means to the end can be different sometimes, but tough conversations do come up. We're all on the same page in educating kids and we need to be the role models," he said

The principals will keep their $1,700 travel stipend against the recommendation of the stipend committee.

The board will ask the committee to review the entire administrator salary structure in the coming year.

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