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Salaries on School Board may even out

Deciding it didn't make sense for different board members to earn different pay for doing the same job, School Board members this week agreed they all should receive annual salaries of $28,147.

In separate action, the board approved the appointment of Teretta Charles as the new principal at Forest Ridge Elementary School, a move that some faculty members, staffers and parents at the school opposed.

Florida school boards reorganize each November. But this year the regular tasks _ selecting a chairwoman and vice chairwoman, setting meeting times, hiring an attorney and so on _ were expanded because of a change in state law.

For years, board members' salaries have been set according to a state formula that takes county population into account. Because of the legal change, the three members who were sworn in to office Tuesday evening _ veterans Pat Deutschman and Sandra "Sam" Himmel and newcomer Lou Miele _ had the freedom to set their salaries at whatever amount they thought appropriate.

The other two board members, Patience Nave and Ginger Bryant, are up for re-election in two years. The law says they would have to be paid according to the state formula for now.

Instead of debating the merits of how much board members are paid, the board voted unanimously to have everyone paid the same amount as determined by the state formula.

"It is only reasonable for all five of us to have the same salary schedule," Deutschman said.

That proposal will be advertised; board members will take a final vote Dec. 10. They will legally be allowed to decrease the salary but not increase it.

The $28,147 annual salary is a 2.8 percent increase

over last year's $27,375. The new amount is greater than the beginning teacher salary, which is $26,400. Board members are well aware that their pay is often measured against that of beginning teachers.

The Citrus County Education Association and school administrators have not yet negotiated pay raises for teachers this year. The union seeks $2,000 raises. Administrators have said they want the salary for beginning teachers to increase by $1,000.

The board on Tuesday also accepted superintendent David Hickey's recommendation that Charles replace Forest Ridge principal Renna Jablonskis, who will become director of student services in January.

Some staffers and parents at the school had pushed for assistant principal Dave Stephens to get the job, and they voiced concerns about Charles and how she might change the school's family atmosphere. Hickey took the unusual step of introducing Charles to the Forest Ridge staff Monday afternoon, before the board's final approval Tuesday.

He told staffers that change was inevitable; she spoke about the need to work as a family.

On Wednesday, Charles said she had little to say about how she would overcome concerns about her at the school.

"I'm excited about going there, and that's really it," she said. "I think it will be very natural."

Charles has been the principal of Inverness Primary School since 1997.

In other School Board news:

+ Organization: The board chose Sandra "Sam" Himmel as its new chairwoman and Ginger Bryant as vice chairwoman. Regular meetings were again set at 4 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month, with fourth Tuesdays serving as workshop days.

Richard "Spike" Fitzpatrick, who has been the board's attorney for more than two decades, was rehired for the coming year. His monthly retainer remains $1,250, but his hourly rate increased for the first time in years, from $125 an hour for extraordinary services to $150 per hour.

+ Mike Hampton: The board voted unanimously but reluctantly to name the baseball complex at Crystal River High School after professional baseball player Mike Hampton. He has donated money to the school and school officials hoped to honor him at an event in early December, which would be before the next regular board meeting.

Board members expressed concern about taking action, as the item was not on the agenda and the school's advisory council did not help make the decision. But they opted to go ahead and grant the school principal's request.

Principal Steve Myers did not return a reporter's phone calls Wednesday.

_ Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendtsptimes.com or 564-3621.

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