The Pine City School Board was divided during their January meeting following a decision to approve a contract to increase the superintendent’s salary for six months starting this month.
The contract brought before the board would give Paula Foley an additional $2000 a month, plus $2000 toward her HSA, between January and June of this year while she provides additional Human Resources and Business Office services.
Boardmember Dan Peterson said this contract is for catch-up work that needs to be done.
"This is for work that needs to get done in the next six months. This is not for work that has already been done," Peterson told the board. "We've heard from nearly every group in the district that they are being overworked and they need more people, so we (the school board) could entertain hiring somebody to carry on some of the work Paula (Foley) has done up to this point. I don't think we could find a consultant, or an individual, who would take over some of the work Paula would do for anywhere near $14,000."
Board members Candice Ames and JacLynn Cavillin were both strong opponents of the measure, saying it went against the board standards and the contract Foley agreed to.
"In my opinion, the timing of this request could not be any more inappropriate. Our teachers and administrative teams have been providing extra duties without extra pay since the beginning of time. That's what teachers and administrators do," Cavillin said.
Cavillin went on to say she could not support this pay while Pine City teachers and support staff remain in crisis due to the pandemic.
In defense, Board member of the contract, Becci Palmblade, referred to this as equal pay compared to what the previous superintendent made.
"She, in my opinion, has gone above and beyond - she is in the classroom, she reads to our students, and she listens to our community," Palmblade told the board. "She wants to do the work here. She just needs the support of the board, so that she can move forward and continue doing the work she wants to do. It's not extra pay. It is equal pay. The exact same pay for what the previous superintendent was doing."
The board approved the contract for the additional $14,000 in a vote of 4 to 3.