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Superintendent, board president defend administration salary levels

Hudson School District Superintendent Mary Bowen Eggebraaten and Board President Barb Van Loenen believe the report prepared by Daniel Bruch, Dennis Davis and James Kubiak does not give an accurate reflection of what's occurring in the Hudson School District.

"I believe the men had good intentions, but they missed some important areas that impact leadership, leadership compensation and the success of a school district," Bowen Eggebraaten said.

Van Loenen questioned the validity of some aspects and some of the analysis used in the report.

"Some of the findings of the men are harsh when you look at what the district has accomplished," Van Loenen said. "The success of our district speaks for itself. If people were unhappy with the district they would have attended the annual meeting in September."

Very few citizens attended the meeting, which was held not long after administrative salaries were being negotiated last spring and summer.

Bowen Eggebraaten said both public and private enterprises support retaining, recruiting and hiring high-quality leaders to produce results.

"The community expects high-quality administrators to lead the school and district," Bowen Eggebraaten said. "In Hudson we have achieved unprecedented results, a continuation of our rich tradition."

She recited a long list of Hudson's achievements in the past year or two.

"We have a high-quality performing board, staff and administrators," Bowen Eggebraaten said. "That has led to great results across many sections of our district."

She said that also came with administrator salaries that are not unreasonably high - more in the average or low-average of the district's comparable schools.

Some of the highlights listed by the superintendent included:

  • More students advancing from "proficient" to "advanced" levels of the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examination (WKCE).
  • Smart Goal results that are so impressive that the National Committee that started the program came to Hudson to study the district's use of the program.
  • Elementary reading programs that find more students reading at grade level than ever before.

    "Other school districts are visiting us to see how we do it," Bowen Eggebraaten said.

  • Unprecedented improvement in survey results dealing with the Developmental Assets program in the district.
  • More advanced placement (AP) courses than ever before at the high school level.
  • The music department was honored with a 2010 Best Community for Music Education award.
  • Developed a strong relationship with UW-River Falls for both students and staff.
  • Started a national certified pre-engineering program at the high school.
  • Implemented the long-range HSD 2025 program.
  • Constructed a "green" elementary school (River Crest).

    "This building has won national awards and was built below cost of similar buildings in three states," Bowen Eggebraaten said. "It also beat the pre-construction estimates of operating the building. That has created a tax benefit for years to come."

  • The district is also considered an Energy Star leader.
  • The district has created budget cuts and a reallocation of resources that resulted in a flat tax levy for next year.

    "Most districts' levies have increased - ours stayed the same," Bowen Eggebraaten said.

    She also said the school is intertwined with the health of the local economy.

    "We have brought new families to the community," Bowen Eggebraaten said. Demographer Hazel Reinhardt recently told the school board that Hudson experienced growth during the recession that was not matched in Twin Cities' districts. Hudson continued to grow by 2 percent during the economic downturn.

    "I could go on and on about what our district has accomplished under the direction of high-performing administrators and teachers," Bowen Eggebraaten said.

    About the alleged disparity between the salaries of administrators and teachers, the superintendent had this to say.

    "Remember that the administrators generally come through the teaching ranks. Like any industry, there needs to be an incentive to invest the time, money and education in an effort to move up the ladder."

    She said contracts call for teachers to be on the job 190 days; administrators 260 days.

    In at least one area, the report may have had a direct or indirect impact.

    Both Bowen Eggebraaten and Van Loenen said it has been recommended to the board that an outside third party be engaged to compile data and base information for the board to use when assessing future administrative salaries.

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