GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KREX) — “Unlike the government, I can’t just go print money and give it out to people,” says Andrea Haitz, School District 51 board president. School District 51 board members agreed to approve Brian Hill’s superintendent contract during a special session, what they did not agree on is how much to pay him.

Hill’s new contract covers a three-year term, but three new board members suggested a salary rate lower than the previously agreed to an average of 10 comparable Colorado school districts.

A decision the other two board members opposed. Doug Levinson, School District 51 board member, says, “the new contract with this new board has penalized Dr. Hill he took a salary cut with this new board. His new salary is 36% below the average superintendent salary on a per-pupil basis for our 10 comparable districts in terms of size and location.”

New board members pushed forward anyway. Andrea Haitz, School District 51 Board President, says, “this is frustrating because we had a great conversation and now I feel like you two are pinning yourselves against something that the three of us had done.”

Levinson also says, “I think the community needs to understand Dr. Hill made major concessions to accept this new contract and that’s on him, if he wants to do it that’s fine, we want to acknowledge that though.”

Levinson also pointed out, Hill’s new contract is significantly lower than what prior board members had proposed to him. Levinson added, “to keep folks, we need to fairly and competitively compensate them like other districts are doing.”

Board President Andrea Haitz agreed but stayed the course. Haitz also says, “I would love to pay our teachers way more than they’re getting paid right now. Is it feasible? Well, I’m hoping that while we’re on the board we can look at those things and figure ways to compensate our teachers more.”

Controversy or not, Hill took the high road during the meeting.

Brian Hill, Assistant Superintendent, says, “thank you again to this board and thank you to this community for entrusting me with the honor and duty of leading this district into the future.” Hill takes the reins July 1st.

While Brian Hill’s contract is final, the board selected a base salary of $221,000. It’s not yet clear how the board selected Hill’s salary but KREX 5 has reached out to board members to find out. We’ll keep you posted.