Steamboat Springs School District superintendent gets a bonus | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs School District superintendent gets a bonus

School Board approves 401K contribution for superintendent

Jack Weinstein

— Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham is getting a raise.

The School Board voted, 3-2, on Monday night in favor of giving Cunningham a 401K contribution of $3,465. The contribution is equal in percentage to the raises provided to other district administrators during Cunningham's tenure.

The School Board approved a 0.5 percent one-time bonus for administrators in July 2009. In July 2010, School Board members approved raises for administrators that averaged 1.81 percent.

Because Cunningham's annual salary is $150,000, her one-time bonus amount is $750 and her 1.81 percent raise amount is $2,715. That equals $3,465.

School Board members Laura Anderson and Denise Connelly voted against the contribution.

"My concern is that this is a very difficult economic time, looking at two years of budget cuts and more in the future," Connelly said. "I don't feel comfortable with this. My position is not at all based on merit, because I think Shalee has done a wonderful job."

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Anderson also said her decision wasn't based on whether Cunningham deserved it. She noted that the School Board just approved a three-year contract for Cunningham in May. It took effect in July.

"I think this sets a really difficult precedent six months into a contract to give a compensation increase especially during this economic time when everybody is struggling," she said.

Fund Board members Kristi Brown and Roger Good voiced their support for Cunningham during a public comment portion before the vote.

"It's a very small amount of money and a pat on the back," said Brown, the Fund Board's president. "I think she deserves more than this. I'm disappointed to hear any disagreement with this. I highly recommend it."

Good said he didn't think the 401K contribution set a precedent. School Board member Lisa Brown agreed. She said increasing Cunningham's compensation was a reward for guiding the district through difficult financial times and the highest state accreditation ranking.

The Colorado Department of Education announced in December that Steamboat was among the top 8 percent of school districts statewide. It was one of 14 districts, out of 178, to be accredited with distinction.

In other action, School Board members:

■ Approved bond fund and capital reserve expenditures not to exceed $400,000. School Board members, by a 3-2 vote, authorized Maintenance Operations and Transportation Director Pascal Ginesta to spend up to $175,000 to replace 4,900 square feet of sidewalks and an entrance area at Strawberry Park Elementary School. It also will include a snowmelt system. Board members, by a 4-1 vote, authorized Technology Director Tim Miles to spend as much as $225,000 to add copper wire and upgrade other infrastructure.

■ Accepted the 2009-10 fiscal year audit, which provided a "clean" opinion of the district's finances.

■ Authorized School Board member Brian Kelly to work with Ginesta to negotiate the sale of district property in Clark.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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