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LETTER: A deal too rich for Grand Forks taxpayers' blood

I find School Board member Vicki Ericson's logic in support of a three-year contract and a 3.49 percent, $7,500 raise to $225,000 for the Grand Forks superintendent interesting ("Superintendent salary approved by committee," Page A3, June 4).

As board vice president in 2012 and president in 2013, Ericson presided over deficits of $4 million each year.

I suppose we should feel blessed to have a superintendent who has, as the story describes, two master's degree and an Ivy League Ph.D. But let's compare actual results in our area between those who came in with gilded credentials vs "average Joes and Joannes."

Remember City Administrator Richard Warne, who came in 2000 with the Brigham Young University seal of approval? He was gone in six months. Meanwhile, the city has thrived under the leadership of two locals with degrees from UND, Rick Duquette and Todd Feland.

The late Tom Clifford, former president of UND, supposedly was not even qualified to be president. He only had a J.D. from UND. But he and his team of locals delivered great education for a reasonable cost when the state did not have oil revenue.

In the nonprofit sector, Concordia College graduate Dave Molmen and other Altru executives, nearly all UND or other local university graduates, have delivered real leadership. They took 15 percent to 20 percent pay cuts in 2013 to avoid layoffs.

In the private sector, Alerus Financial, under the leadership of UND/North Dakota State University-educated Randy Newman, Karl Bollinger and Kris Compton, has had steady, profitable growth for years.

Maybe we cannot afford this Ivy League graduate? Could we stumble through with someone like East Grand Forks' Dave Pace, $137,100 (2015-16)? Fargo's Jeff Schatz, $195,000 (2015-16)? Or West Fargo's David Flowers, $176,509 (2014-15)? None of them have three-year rolling contracts. Nor did former Grand Forks superintendent and UND graduate Mark Sanford.

For those teachers who also have "leveled off" at the top of the schedule and received a "reduction in take home pay," a 3.5 percent increase averages out to $2,326 a year. I predict the teachers would accept that offer.

C.T. Marhula

Grand Forks