School board approves new contract for superintendent

Published 10:49 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Albert Lea School Board on Tuesday approved a new three-year contract for Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk.

The measure passed on a 4-2 vote. Board members Neal Skaar, Dave Klatt, Mark Ciota and Ken Petersen voted to approve Funk’s contract. Angie Hanson and Jill Marin voted no.

Mike Funk

Funk’s salary will increase 2 percent to $172,590 for the 2018-19 school year, Funk said, before increasing to $176,042 the following year. His salary for the 2020-21 school year was not set on Tuesday, but the amount will not be less than the 2019-20 school year, per the contract.

After the meeting, Funk said he supported the board’s decision.

“It’s great for the district,” he said. “It provides continuity. We’ve got a lot of great programs in place … we will continue to move forward and do what’s best for kids in this district.”

Funk said he has only had two operating referendums in 12 years of being superintendent in Albert Lea and at Bird Island, Olivia, Lake Lillian School District. He was hired as superintendent in Albert Lea in 2009.

“From an operations angle, we have been as effective and efficient as we can,” he said.

After the meeting, Hanson said voting no was “difficult.” She spoke highly of a change at the district that gives teachers a greater voice.

“I know that I like some of the changes Dr. Funk is making with more of the bottom-up approach and things, but unfortunately we had the vote now, and I guess I would like to see some more changes,” she said.

Hanson said she wants to see more effort to improve morale.

The board also approved three-year contracts with 2 percent pay increases per year with Executive Director Jim Quiram and Community Education Director Chris Chalmers, as well as a two-year contract with Albert Lea Area Schools Licensed Practical Nurse Association.

Ciota said extending Funk’s contract provides the district continuity and continued positive guidance.

“Educational changes are always long term, and stability in the leadership role is paramount to making those things occur,” Ciota said. “And so, we have one of the longest-tenured superintendents in the Big Nine, and so I am pleased to continue that. I think the changes that we’ve seen over the past several years are just going to continue. Dr. Funk keeps trying to push us to improve, and it does take that consistency. It was an easy vote for me.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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