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Niklaus will take pay cut as ed director

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
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Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

When Detroit Lakes Superintendent Lowell Niklaus officially vacates that position on June 30, to accept a new position with the district as its education director, he will be taking a pay cut.

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But Niklaus has a desire to return to the educational aspect of school administration.

"I was the education director here before I became superintendent," he said. "There are components of that job I truly miss."

As superintendent, Niklaus found himself performing more of the business functions of the district, such as budgeting and paperwork, and less of the educational functions.

"There's somewhat of a disconnect from the educational component (as superintendent)," he said. So come July 1, Niklaus will be heading back to the future, so to speak.

But the district will not see a drastic increase in administrative costs as a result of the change. In fact, Niklaus noted, he has made a commitment that the total administrative budget for the district in 2006-07 will not exceed what it would have been if Assistant Superin-tendent Bob Grosz hadn't vacated his position this past fall. Grosz accepted a position as assistant superintendent for instructional services in the Fargo School District in August.

When Grosz' resignation was accepted at the September school board meeting, the district was left with an administrative shortage. But with the school year already underway, the district opted not to fill Grosz' position and to hire a consultant to provide some of his functions to the district.

L & P Consulting, the firm owned by former DL Middle School principal Les Perry, was hired on a $45,000, 90-day contract to provide services including curriculum coordination and staff development. Niklaus, meanwhile, assumed some of Grosz's duties in areas including state reporting services and supervision of building principals.

When a new superintendent is hired and Niklaus moves into his new/old position as education director, Perry will continue to provide some consulting services on a limited basis. Though both his and Niklaus' contracts are still being negotiated, Niklaus said the combined total cost of their services will not exceed what Grosz would have received if he had stayed with the district.

According to Niklaus, Grosz' salary for 2005-06 would have been $101,704; with benefits, that figure would have been in the $125,000 range. Niklaus' contract, however, will not be year-round, and Perry's consulting contract will also be reduced from the current 90 days.

Niklaus' current paycheck of $111,531 (benefits not included) will be substantially reduced with the move. His new contract will also exclude vacation and paid holidays, he said. His current retirement benefits, however, are not expected to increase nor decrease.

"It's my hope that my retirement benefits would carry over," he said. At any rate, retirement is still quite a few years away, added Niklaus, who turns 55 in April.

"I still have at least eight years before I hit the 'rule of 90,'" he said -- teachers and school administrators are allowed to retire with full benefits once the combined total of the years they have served as either a teacher or administrator in the state of Minnesota, plus their current age, reaches 90. (And even then, his retirement does not become mandatory.)

Though Niklaus' resignation as superintendent does not become effective until June 30, the search is already underway for his successor.

"The deadline for applications is March 3," he said.

Niklaus said he expects the process of reviewing those applications and interviewing finalists to be completed over the course of approximately three to four weeks after the application deadline.

"We're hopeful of being able to approve a contract with a new superintendent by April 1," he added. That contract would then become effective on July 1.

"I'll still be here until then," Niklaus said.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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