School board gets new chairperson and a raise

The Princeton Board of Education has a new chairperson.

Kathy Kraft has been chosen by her fellow board members to lead the school board during the 2012 calendar year. Jim Gibbs was elected vice-chair.

The action came on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at the Board of Education’s annual reorganization meeting. Eric Minks was elected clerk, Dennis Dehn the acting clerk to serve if Minks is absent and Craig Johnson was elected treasurer.

Kraft joined the school board in 2008 after being the top votegetter in an election in which five new members were elected to the school board. She earned 4,468 votes or 19.03 percent. Kraft served as vice-chair in 2011.

Gibbs joined the school board in January 2011. He was appointed to the board to fill the remaining two years of the term held by Dan Whitcomb, who resigned at the end of 2010 after being elected to the Mille Lacs County Board.

After reorganizing, the board set an $85-per-meeting salary for the school board recorder position, held by Angela Oswald, the secretary to Superintendent Richard Lahn.

The board then addressed their own salary by giving themselves a $100 per month raise. The board chairman is compensated an additional $100 per month, or $450.

Board members had received $250 per month for serving on the board, a sum that had not increased for the past 12 to 15 years. The measure passed on a 3-2 vote, with Kraft and Gibbs voting against the salary increase.

A January 2012 study of school board compensation from around the area showed that Princeton board members were underpaid, Lahn said.

The study showed that board members in the following communities received the following comparative salaries: Foley, $300 per month; St. Francis, $346 per month; Cambridge $250 per month; and Forest Lake, $300 per month. The following school districts pay on a per-meeting basis: Chisago Lakes, $45 per meeting; Braham, $50 per meeting; Rush City, $45 per meeting; North Branch $40 per meeting; and Milaca, $35 per meeting.