April 16, 2014

Partly cloudy

Superintendent Randy Stepp gives up $83,000 signing bonus, merit raises

MEDINA — Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp has agreed to give up his $83,000 signing bonus, as well as the merit raises in his new contract, according to the school board.

A Thursday statement from the board announcing Stepp’s decision comes on the heels of public outcry over his contract. At least 150 people turned up to voice opposition to Stepp’s new contract at a special board meeting Wednesday night. Instead of the board answering any questions, residents were given index cards and asked to submit questions in writing that would be addressed on the district’s website and at a public forum tonight.

Randy Stepp

Stepp’s contract includes annual compensation of at least $186,000 in wages, allowance and other fringe benefits, without the signing bonus.

A Gazette analysis of the contracts of superintendents of Medina County’s seven public schools showed that only one other superintendent receives a similar bonus as part of his contract.

Brunswick Superintendent Mike Mayell receives $7,000 annually as a longevity bonus in his 2012-16 contract.

The controversy over Stepp’s contract also has sparked opposition to the school district’s 5.9-mill levy on the May ballot — including a Facebook page called “Medina City Schools Outrage.”

Board member Susan Vlcek said it has not yet been decided how the money will be returned, whether as a check or in the form of giving up banked sick days.

The contract states that Stepp must relinquish payment for accumulated sick days in an equivalent amount of the bonus should he choose to accept employment with another district before the end of his five-year contract.

“It’s his promise to reimburse the district, and we’re more than grateful for that decision. I think it respects our staff, and it respects our community, and it shows what we expect of our leadership,” Vlcek said.

According to the statement from the board, the merit raises could add up to as much as $36,000 a year over the term of the contract.

Stepp still will receive the guaranteed 2 percent raise each year, starting in the 2013-14 school year, as specified in his contract.

“We believe strongly in Dr. Stepp’s leadership and his vision for our children’s education,” the statement said.

Tonight’s community forum is 6 to 7:30 at the Medina Performing Arts Center, 851 Weymouth Road. It will include a question-and-answer session with the board.

The district has posted answers to some question from the community on its website at www.medinacityschooldistrict.org.

Bonuses tied to longevity are becoming more popular, said Tom Ash, director of governmental relations for the Buckeye Association of School Administrators. He said 15 to 20 years ago it would have been hard to find bonuses in contracts.

“Sometimes it’s called a signing bonus, but it’s intended to offset housing costs,” Ash said. “Sometimes we also see bonuses tied to the length of tenure, paid over the course of the contract.”

Ash said vacancies in the superintendent’s office are on the rise in Ohio, most likely because of pension reforms enacted by state lawmakers in the fall. The reforms include an increase in contributions to retirement funds and a raise in the age employees can get full retirement benefits, causing a spike throughout the state in retiring administrators, he said.

He said this increased demand for leadership has made it more likely for boards to use bonuses to entice superintendents to take or stay in their positions.
“We’re seeing higher than normal vacancies among superintendents in Ohio,” Ash said. “More and more we’re seeing boards interested in the concept of some kind of performance reward.”

Reporter Loren Genson contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

Community Forum

WHEN: 6 to 7:30 tonight.
WHERE: Medina Performing Arts Center, 851 Weymouth Road.
• Meeting will include a question-and-answer session with the board.

  • Medina resident

    Bad move from Mr. Stepp. He should have taken those $83K and flip all that envious “outraged public”. He is very good superintendent. My daughter is a senior in Medina High and everything she needed academically she has received, even though budgets were cut and levies failed one after another.Mr. Stepp is fine general effectively commanding small army of teachers in Medina County. And he IS good at what he does, and he deserves to be paid MUCH more than average teacher. Mr. Stepp should just go to “greener pasture” and leave the wreck of Medina County School district behind. Let those envious losers harvest bitter fruits of their own labor. Fortunately for me, in 3 months I won’t care about schools anymore.

  • Richard Leiby

    So Stepp isn’t giving back the 83,000 after all. He keeps the money and lets board keep some of his sick days . Wow screw the tex payers again. If he has 83,000 in sick time saved up. Then this district has a big problem. No way should Stepp or any other staff be able to bank up that many hour. I knew this giving back was just a big front to fool the tax payer and votes. Told you he and the board are corrupt as hell. They need to go now. Vote no on levy vote yes on recall of board.

  • Medina resident

    Yes, on levy! Great! Let’s rise taxes to the sky and see residents with some financial sense start leaving this overtaxed county and in a few short years we’ll have influx of low-wage residents into then-abandoned neighborhoods. May I remind you that BOE was elected by the very same Medina residents who now blame them ? “Food and spectacles” demands from the mob didn’t end well for Roman Empire, neither it will end well for Medina. Though, I don’t have to convince anyone – I will leave this county as soon as my daughter graduates. Meanwhile, you can demand “equality and justice” for everyone. Socialism at it’s finest, I guess. Will it’s predictable inevitable results.

  • Richard Leiby

    Why do you think it is right for board and Stepp to keep taking from the tax payer. Where alot of people on fixed incomes and people that are making lets money or have no job should keep passing levies and paying more in taxes is fair to them. You don’t see Stepp give up anything when he is demanding teachers and other staff take pay cut pay more on their benefits while he is making backroom deals to gain him one of the highest paid superintendents in the state. Not right not fair to tax payers, or staff or students that he keeps taking more and mote from. Time for him and board to go. 244,000 repayment of school loans of his wow.

  • Medina resident

    Do you think you can hire someone better than Stepp ? For less money? Speak up, name the name, let’s discuss the salary. Oh, no. All you can do it whine about Stepp earning “too much” and not “sacrificing”. Well, he doesn’t have to sacrifice – he works for money. And so far – he is doing great job for quite reasonable amount. All that envy and jealousy can only result in destruction of what Medina has good going for it: the skillful superintendent, who stirs the ship in the waters of bad economy. Once again – do you know anyone better than him or anyone as good and cheaper?

  • dogeatdog123

    Hi Randy, welcome to the Gazette’s comments section. You’re fired!

  • Medina resident

    Kish mean tukhis und zyne gezunt !nGo cry me a river. Is your mind is too narrow to even imagine that somebody else would support Stepp ?

  • Medina ex-resident

    Rewrite the headline as “Stepp keeps the cash”, since Stepp really did not give up the bonus! He cashed the bonus and on paper loses excessive sick days that he will never use and never would have used. $83,000 buys a whole lotta sick time especially when he has disability insurance that would cover him if he truly got sick. What is the loss to him? Zippo. Medina needs to realize that there are others who could do a much better job than Stepp. What has he really done? Every year the curriculum suffers and staff are being let go. Teaching staff are on the losing end of this bargain and Medina should look outside (even outside of the state) to find a better superintendent who is a TRUE public servant and cares for the students and schools. Stepp is “Randy Steppford” in that he is a goatee-sporting, passionless monotone dude in a light tan suit who has never shown an emotion for anything. He is laughing all the way to the bank while Medina continues to be a mediocre district at best as compared to the best schools in the nation. Why the taxpayers continue to put up with him is beyond me. I’m just glad my kids are out of those schools and in a truly top-notch district in another state. In a district with 25,000+ students with a superintendent paid a little less than Stepp. Wake up Medina!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.davis.7739 Michelle Davis

    Medina Resident, nnAs a graduate of Medina City School, I can ntell you that everything in Medina Schools isn’t that sunny and cheery nas you think. I was a freshman before large budget cuts were made and nduring my sophomore year things did change drastically. Art programs nwere cut, the orchestra and music programs lost support, class sizes nincreased dramatically and the volume of the staff began decreasing. Notn to mention pay to play began, busing was lost and many fees were ndramatically increased. So much so that many people who loved to be nactive and involved in school were forced to quit doing what they loved nbecause of the amount of money that was required.nn By the time I graduated a year and a half ago, I had completed all my credits requiredn of me the year prior as a junior and had no classes left to take academically at the nhigh school. Plenty of people I have had the privilege of going to nschool with had two or more study halls a day. While everything may nappear to you as ‘fine’ from the outside, it’s not. There was and still nis a lot of hostility towards Dr. Stepp from inside that building and nyou could tell that the staff were unhappy with their jobs and the way nthings were.nnWhile you say your daughter might have everything nshe needs academically, my question to you is what kind of quality neducation has she received? Is it one where she has plenty of nextracurricular activities and class besides the basics that enrich the nmind and encouraged her explore different ideas and learn about other nthings besides, math, language and history? When I started high school, nyou could take French, German, Latin, Spanish. All from Level one up to nadvanced placement. Now? I’m pretty sure French and German are gone and nthe AP classes will be gone next. They’ll keep cutting back until the nbare minimum is left. Would you want your daughter to have that? The bare minimum? nnIs that what you consider a good school system? Over crowded classrooms? A hacked up curriculum and a place where students have to fight tooth and nail to be in activities like sports and music? Believen it or not, a good school system is what makes communities grow. Good school systems are important and I was once a part of one and had the experience of watching it fall apart around me. nnBesides, don’t just forget the school system! It’s the people like you that let the school fall into this. You can’t forget about the school because you’re daughter is graduating! You’re turning your back on the future! Those kids in those hallways are the future! They’re going to grow up and the next mayor or school board member or the first person to walk on Mars maybe walking in those halls right now! You are the voice for those students who don’t have a voice and they are counting on you to help them! nnMy grandmother, Mrs. Harris, served as the librarian for the Medina High School for many years nbefore she retired and I agree with her when she says that while Mr. Stepp and the board will never pass another levy until he leaves office, at the end of the day the students are hurt the most. Think about the nstudent and don’t turn your back on them just because your daughter graduates. The biggest crime in all of humanity is the people who simply stop caring because they feel they don’t have too.nn”I won’t care about schools anymore.” Out of everything you wrote, that stuck out the most because it’s the sad sentence on this entire page. nnSincerely,nMichellenA Medina Graduate from Kent State