Havre Daily News
Havre Public Schools teachers are pleased that Superintendent Kirk Miller has a new three-year contract, but have questions about his $10,680 raise, the head of the local teachers union said.
Karla Bolken, president of the Havre Education Association, said she is happy with the job Miller has done and glad he's going to be here for another three years.
“Dr. Miller works very hard for the district and the state,” Bolken said.
Bolken said she is concerned with the raise Miller received, from $84,321 this year to a $95,000 base salary for next year.
“Teachers got a 4 percent raise this year and he got 12. Compare percentages,” Bolken said. “Teachers got 4 percent each year for the next three years, so he got in one year what we got in three.”
Bolken added that most of the 4 percent that the teachers received will go to rising health insurance premiums.
“We're told money isn't available for such increases. They evidently found it for him,” she said.
A 4 percent raise was also approved for other district employees, including administrators. The assistant superintendent, Dennis Parman, makes $79,283 this school year and will be making $87,252 by 2008.
The Havre school board approved Miller's raise last week. Board members declined to be interviewed and instead issued a press release, which said in part: “Believing that recognition of his commitment and dedication to the education of students within the Havre district was best acknowledged by efforts of the Board to actively retain his expertise, the Trustees agreed to a base salary during the contract period of $95,000.”
The Havre school district has seen better budgetary times in the last year.
In August, Miller, who is also chair of the state Board of Public Education, said that because of increased tax revenue from oil and gas production within the school district's boundaries, and because of leftover money from last year, the district had the money to operate at the maximum budget the state allows without imposing a mill levy that voters had already approved.
As a result of last year's special legislative session addressing school funding, Havre Public Schools will receive a 4.2 percent increase for the general fund budget and another 4 percent in one-time-only funds added to the general fund budget. The increase in state funds amounts to $869,877 for the current school year.
The average salary for superintendents in Class A districts is $84,468 this year, according to a survey done by the Whitefish school district, with the high being $99,325 in Columbia Falls, which has 2,528 students, and a low of $75,000 in Glendive, which has 1,245 students. Havre has 1,945 students.
In comparison to other superintendents on the Hi-Line, Terry Grant earns an annual salary of $62,000 as superintendent for North Star Public Schools for the 2005-2006 school year. Grant has been superintendent of the district of 190 students for about four years. Chinook Public Schools superintendent of 10 years, Jay Elslick, earns $76,200 this year. The Chinook district has 325 students.
Jerry House is earning $94,964 this year as superintendent of the Whitefish School District, which has 1,897 kids. House is in his sixth year in the position, after serving as a superintendent in Washington for nine years.
Kalispell Public Schools superintendent Darlene Schottle received a base salary of $95,000 for 2005-2006. She is serving her third year in Kalispell, which has 5,500 students.
Under their labor contract, first-year teachers in Havre with a bachelor's degree saw their annual salary increase from $23,500 in the 2004-05 school year to $26,435 for 2007-08. On the higher end of the spectrum, the salaries of those teachers who are 22-year veterans of the district and have more education than a master's degree will rise from $47,248 to $53,005 for 2007-08.
The average teaching salary in Havre is $40,710, according to the salary survey compiled by Whitefish Public Schools business manager Danelle Reisch in December.