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Farmington School Execs Agree to Pay Cuts

Supt. Sue Zurvalec and administrators volunteer to take decreases similar to other staffers.

top administrators have volunteered to take pay cuts similar to those negotiated with non-instructional support staff earlier this year.

Officials hope to negotiate the same concessions with the district’s teacher and administrator bargaining units later this year.

Assistant Supt. Dave Ruhland said that the district’s top seven executives agreed to 5-6 percent decreases in total compensation, including increased health care contributions.

Supt. Sue Zurvalec is one of the executives who took the pay cut. She said at the Aug. 23 Board of Education meeting that before the 2010-2011 school year began, all Farmington Public Schools employees took pay concessions and agreed to making larger contributions to their health coverage, in order to help the district balance its budget in the wake of steep funding cuts from the State of Michigan.

The leadership team was no exception, she said.

This year, while the district was going through difficult negotiations with the transportation, nutrition services, maintenance and custodial bargaining units – all while considering privatization of those services – Zurvalec said the executives met to discuss making reductions to their own compensation.

“We were all of the same mind that the sacrifices should be shared,” she said. “You can’t ask others to do something that you’re not willing to do.”

Ruhland said that the executives wanted to volunteer to take the cuts before August. But because the district is still negotiating with three bargaining units, it would have possibly undercut the teachers’ and administrators’ negotiations if the executives agreed to steep pay cuts too early in the process of negotiations with the staff.

The executives will contribute at least 20 percent of their health care costs. Some will contribute more, in order to make up the 5-6 percent reduction in total compensation, while others will contribute 20 percent while taking a larger pay cut to make up the total decrease.

Some of the other benefits the executives will give up, similar to the non-instructional unions, are back pay for furlough days last year, some of their paid time off, and for those who are on step increase schedules, a freeze of those increases.

The agreement is for one year, in recognition of the possibility that further cuts to public education could mean staff and executives alike will be asked to take steeper cuts next year, Ruhland said.

According to budget transparency figures provided on the district's website, Zurvalec's salary in 2009-2010 was $205,088.26, with more than $50,000 in health and retirement benefits. Assistant superintendent salaries were in the $150,000 range, with around $44,000 in benefits.

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