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School administrators receive hefty raises (UPDATED)Tell North Platte what you think

Superintendent Marty Bassett got a raise to $187,200 a year, and associate superintendent Tami Eshleman received a promotion with an 8-percent increase, the school board said Tuesday.

Bassett, who is finishing his first year on the job, was making $180,000 a year.

Eshleman was receiving $121,200. She will make $130,896 next year as she officially becomes the associate superintendent.

The board approved the raises unanimously, after some explanations were given.

Bassett said the raises are based on comparable salaries at other schools.

Bassett's increase amounts to 4 percent. He is paid considerably more than his predecessors.

Former Superintendent David Engle turned down raises for himself during the three years he was in North Platte and received $160,000 a year. Following Engle's resignation, Eshleman was interim superintendent in 2011-12, when she was paid $152,500.

Board member Julie Nielsen told the Bulletin that Engle's insistence on a flat salary was bound to cause trouble.

"We knew we'd have to catch up at some point," she said. "We need to be at the mid-point (of salaries at comparable schools). We knew we would have to pay more to hire someone of quality. We have to stay competitive. We don't want turnover. We want someone who will stay with the district."


Under the raises, the other top 20 North Platte school administrators -- principals and central office administrators -- receive a 3-percent increase.

One exception is high school principal Todd Rhodes, whose resignation was accepted Tuesday. Rhodes will become the superintendent at Maxwell next year, Nielsen said after the meeting.

The lowest paid full-time principal makes $94,200 a year -- first-year principal Greg Fruhwirth of Wray, Colo. who was approved to take the helm at Washington Elementary.

The highest paid principal will earn $124,234 (a "placeholder" amount for the high school principal.)

In the central office, the lowest salary is $118,450 a year for special education director Chris Vierya.

The administrators' raises will add $150,500 more to the school district budget next year compared to this year, according to the district's financial analysis.

Recently, North Platte teachers received a 2-percent pay increase, but that really amounted to an average 3.5-percent raise, Nielsen said Tuesday before the vote, because teachers also receive "step" raises for more experience and education. So, a 2-percent increase in the base pay (starting salary) brought teachers on the higher end of the pay scale a 5-percent raise.

Good finances

After the meeting, business manager Stuart Simpson told the Bulletin that the district is in good financial condition, with about $10 million in cash reserves. He also believes state aid will increase 5-10 percent next year.

The Legislature has yet to agree on a revised state aid formula, but Simpson said a sizeable increase is indicated. This year, the district received about $10 million in state aid.

The district had to replace some pumps and motors this winter in some heating units in school buildings. Looking ahead, the boilers in the oldest buildings -- Cody and Buffalo -- will need to be replaced relatively soon.

But Simpson said there are no unforeseen emergencies.

"We don't have big issues right now," he said. "We have good cash reserves. We don't have a national economic downturn. The situation is stable, which is good."

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/27/2013
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