Official: To save, review contracts
Administrators working under a retire-rehire program should not receive stipends, one board member said.
By JEANNE STARMACK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- An Austintown school board member says that to save money, the district should review contracts it awards for additional duties.
But the schools superintendent says those contracts were reviewed during recent negotiations with the teachers union, and administrators saw no need to cut any of them.
The school district is facing projected deficits of more than $2.8 million in 2008 and $7.3 million in 2009. Board member Michael Creatore said at last week's school board meeting and again in a phone interview that the supplemental contracts are a lot of money to be spending for additional duties -- around $500,000.
Supplemental contracts give stipends to teachers or administrators for work they take on besides their regular duties. Coaches, band directors and yearbook advisers are examples of supplemental positions.
At the board meeting, Creatore questioned stipends for two administrators in particular -- $5,000 for director of instruction Ann Marie Hiznay and $10,000 for treasurer Barbara Kliner.
Creatore said he has no problem with the idea of teachers' being paid for additional duties. He said he believes that administrators such as Hiznay, who is working this year under a retire-rehire program, should not receive stipends. Under retire-rehire, Hiznay was brought back to work at a lower-level salary. But Creatore said that combined with her retirement income, the salary should be enough without the stipend.
He had said at the meeting that Kliner was not set to handle union grievances this year, which was part of the duties in her supplemental pact.
Superintendent Douglas Heuer said that Kliner did handle union grievances two years ago, when the stipend was first given, but quit last year because she didn't have enough time to handle them. He said she didn't accept the stipend last year, but ended up doing a lot of the work anyway because there was no one else to do it.
He said that this year, she will hear grievances and will again be paid the stipend, as a matter of fairness.
Creatore said Wednesday that board members were not told before last week's meeting that Kliner would be hearing grievances. He said that if that is the case, her stipend is no longer an issue with him.
Heuer said Kliner and Hiznay were given supplemental pacts for splitting up the duties of an assistant superintendent's position that the district eliminated three years ago to save money. He said secretaries also absorbed some office work that needed to be done after the position was eliminated, and that the district was paying less than one-third of what it would have paid to keep the position filled.
Heuer said that even though the district chose to keep all of its supplemental positions during negotiations that ended with a new teachers' contract last week, it can choose not to fill the positions from year to year.
"But if you don't fill it, the work doesn't get done," he said.
Heuer said he believes it's good to review supplemental positions every year.
Other cost-cutting measures have been taken in the district, Heuer said retire-rehire program, under which teachers come back to work at a lower level of pay, and a co-pay for teachers' health insurance helped pay for 2 percent and 2.5 percent raises in the teachers' contract, he said.
But with two operating levies set to expire at the end of 2006, the board will have to decide how to recoup that lost income, he said.
Renewal levies at the same millage, replacement levies at a different millage and an income tax are possibilities for the ballot, he said.