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The James S. McDonnell Planetarium built in 1963 features a thin-shell and hyperboloid structure by Gyo Obata. This building is one of the most distinctive components of the St. Louis Science Center campus.

St. Louis Science Center to cut number of VPs

The James S. McDonnell Planetarium built in 1963 features a thin-shell and hyperboloid structure by Gyo Obata. This building is one of the most distinctive components of the St. Louis Science Center campus.
The James S. McDonnell Planetarium built in 1963 features a thin-shell and hyperboloid structure by Gyo Obata. This building is one of the most distinctive components of the St. Louis Science Center campus.

ST. LOUIS (AP) – The St. Louis Science Center, which has drawn scrutiny over the salaries its top executives earn, plans to cut five of its nine vice president positions and to reevaluate how it compensates its leadership team.

In a brief statement Tuesday, the center said it plans to cut five of its nine vice president positions and to reconfigure the remaining four, but it didn’t say whether its current vice presidents would be fired or demoted, the St Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday. The center will also hire a consulting firm to help determine appropriate executive compensation.

The four vice presidents will be responsible for “science content and technology, science education programs, business operations and institutional advancement.” Commissioners who make up the center’s governing board approved the change at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

The newspaper has published several articles about executive compensation at the science center, which is one of five St. Louis Zoo-Museum District institutions, all of which receive property tax money in St. Louis city and county. According to the paper, the science center paid 10 vice presidents more than $1.8 million in total compensation in 2010, and eight of the 10 made more than $184,000. One of those positions already has been eliminated.

The Post-Dispatch reported that the center awarded $264,000 in performance bonuses this year to current and former executives, while none of the other four institutions offered similar bonuses. And eight or the 13 highest-paid workers at district institutions, with the exception of CEOs, worked at the science center.

Ted Hellman, the chairman of the science center’s board of commissioners, said he thinks the paper’s coverage has been unfair, but he declined to elaborate. A spokeswoman for the science center did not respond to a phone message from The Associated Press on Wednesday seeking comment.

In the statement it issued, the center said the changes have been in the works since December.

Last year, the district generated more than $70 million. The funds are split among the science center, Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo.

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