April 18, 2014

Medina
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Pacts vary for Medina County school superintendents

MEDINA — Not every superintendent in Medina County gets a raise each year.

Black River Superintendent Janice Wyckoff is the exception.

Janice Wyckoff

Wyckoff, whose district includes parts of Medina, Ashland and Lorain counties, was paid $92,781 last year, according to school records.

Not only does she earn less than the $100,000-plus salaries of the superintendents in the county’s other six school districts, it’s less than the $97,375 for which her contract calls.

Shortly after the five-year pact was signed in 2009, Wyckoff volunteered to continue at her old salary of $95,000 until the cash-strapped district’s financial situation improved. (Last year, she earned even less because there were only 25 two-week pay periods in 2012.)

Wyckoff said she couldn’t accept a higher salary while the school’s budget is tight and other employees make less.

“In Black River, you know everyone,” she said. “You know the bus driver, you know the janitor — you see their families outside of school.

“It’s hard for me to take extra money when they struggle.”

Wyckoff also has refused to exercise the clause in her contract that allows her to trade as many as 40 vacation days for cash.

“The district can’t afford it,” she said. “I know I have 44 or 45 days accrued, but the difference between me cashing in my days is the difference between a student aide or a set of books.”

Black River, the county’s smallest district with about 1,400 students, was placed on fiscal caution in 2011 by the state and five levies have failed since 2010.
The school board is asking voters to approve an $8.7 mill levy on the ballot in May.

If the levy passes, the district hopes to reduce fees for pay-to-play sports and eliminate kindergarten fees. If the levy doesn’t pass, more cuts — including reducing staff and busing — are expected.

Wyckoff was hesitant to talk about her pay. She said she doesn’t mean to imply that other superintendents don’t work hard or deserve their pay.

“The other superintendents are about the kids and doing what they need,” she said. “I’m just doing what’s right for me.”

Not only is Wyckoff the lowest-paid superintendent in the county. Her contract also provides the fewest benefits.

Around the county

The Gazette looked at the contracts of all seven superintendents following last week’s public outcry over Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp’s new contract.

The five-year pact provided an $83,000 bonus, designed to keep him from taking another job, on top of annual compensation totaling $186,000 in salary, allowances and other fringe benefits.

In response to intense criticism from the teachers’ union and residents, Stepp agreed to give back the bonus and forgo merit raises worth up to $36,000.
Even without the bonus, Stepp’s contract is arguably the most lucrative in the county.

But his base salary of $134,700 isn’t the highest.

Both Brunswick Superintendent Mike Mayell, at $135,000, and Wadsworth Superintendent Dale Fortner, at $134,868, make more.

Stepp will get a raise to $139,000 in August 2014. But by then, Mayell will have received two $4,000 pay hikes, bringing him to $143,000.

Fortner, who will retire this summer, had a clause in his contract that required the school board to re-visit his contract annually to ensure his salary was among the top 4 in a comparative group, but the contract didn’t stipulate who his salary would be compared with.

With 4,745 students, Wadsworth is county’s third-largest district. Brunswick has the highest enrollment, 7,562 students, followed by Medina with 7,066.
Mayell, Fortner and Buckeye Superintendent Brian Williams also receive bonuses on top of their base pay.

Mayell’s “longevity bonus” is $7,000 annually — a total of $28,000 over the four years of his contract. Williams receives a $5,000 annual bonus over the term of his three-year contract for a total of $15,000.

Last year, Fortner received $12,500 in two merit bonuses.

There’s one benefit that every superintendent gets: their 10 percent contribution to the Ohio Teachers Retirement Systems is “picked up” by their districts.
Four of the seven — Mayell, Stepp, Fortner and Cloverleaf’s Daryl Kubilus — also get an additional retirement annuity payment.

Only Mayell and Wyckoff don’t get their Medicare taxes paid for by the district.

Stepp has a fringe benefit that far exceeds those afforded other superintendents: The district pays the full cost of his college degrees, including tuition, fees and books.

So far, the district has paid $244,037 in education bills for Stepp, who earned a doctorate from Ashland University and a master’s in business administration from Case Western Reserve University.

Only one other district — Highland — pays any education cost for a superintendent.

But the contract for Superintendent Catherine Aukerman caps the annual reimbursement at $2,500.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

  • http://www.facebook.com/traci.rydbommonroe Traci Rydbom Monroe

    What a waste of taxpayer money, this is ridiculous NO on any levy for me, apparently it has nothing to do with the kids and ALL about how I can manipulate more out of the taxpayer, and shame on the boards who have allowed this to happen.

  • lookingallaroundme

    I hope Cloverleaf superintendent, Daryl Kubilus gets an article of his own. His $105,000 salary is more like 150,000, plus Cloverleaf pays an extra 11% on top of salary for each principal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ace.wimblington Ace Wimblington

    Gotta love public service….

  • Richard Leiby

    High time every superintendent gets their heads out of the clouds, get back to earth. There is not a one of them worth any of the money or benefits or perks they are being pay. They are not God. They really give a rats ass about the students, district or tax payers. Only thing they care about is how much can I screw the tax payers out of this time. Dad part of it is. The school boards go along with it. Time every voter across the state takes a stand and votes down very levy until state changes way schools are funded, and every school board makes cuts to all these out of line wages, benefits, and perks. All the perks need to go. There is no need for them to get them. Let them live just like the tax payer have to. VOTE NO ON EVERY LEVY OUT THERE.

  • OhioGuy10

    Before we go and spread the word people are not worth whatnthey are being paid perhaps you should educate yourselves on the system. I donnot see all the salaries listed here so it is inappropriate to comment onncounty Superintendents as a whole. Some districts are much larger than othersnso you have that to consider. Some of these districts have AssistantnSuperintendents, Business Managers, Communications Managers, HR people or othernmiddle management. In other districts the Superintendents does all these jobs. nnPositions are paid by what the supply and demand are for thosenpositions. What Stepp and the Medina board did was out of line but I am notngoing to persecute all these people because of someone elseu2019s mistake. We havenno idea why these people were paid bonuses. Perhaps we should ask thatnquestion. I earned a 15% bonus last year because I out performed my company goalsnand made my company more profitable. I have no problem if bonuses are based onngoals and/or reviews. That is business. I would think the averagenSuperintendentu2019s job is pretty tough. In previous articles the average salarynwas reported to be in the mid 130K for this area. The salaries I see do notnseem too out of line on what is comparable. I wish the gazette would do anbetter job researching efficiency of schools administrative teams. It would also be nice to see what the Superintendentsnhave to do to earn those bonuses. Do they have a formal review? Are therengoals? nnI have spoken several times to my schoolu2019s Superintendentnand I think he does a great job. He earns his salary. The money he has saved usnand the energy he has brought to our district is great. If he and the boardnwere trying to hide an $83K bonus and the obscene education reimbursement Inwould think differently. I think what we are seeing with Medina City is notnnormal. I have faith in the people elected to our school board and if I seenpolicies that I do not agree with I will vote them out. Hopefully though, withnwhat is happening in Medina City, this makes us all watch more closely, getninvolved and attend a board meeting once in a while.

  • Mom of three in Medina

    Thank you for the article on salaries. I applaud Superintendent Wyckoff for her common sense attitude and restraint in these tough economic times for so many families across all of Medina County.

  • Richard Leiby

    They are over paid, over benefited, and way over perked. With way economy is right now. All school boards need to be making large cuts to all these things and cutting all staff pay, and benefits. Not keep taking away stuff from students and making threats to parents and tax payers. Until they do this no levy should ever pass. Vote no on all levies. Please Gazette post all the information on front page of your paper so all voters see just how boards are wasting their tax dollars. Put it on front page please!!!!!

  • K. Raco

    @lgenson, call Buckeye’s superintedent. I believe Mr. Williams declined his bonus, given the state of the Buckeye District.

  • Getem

    Wyckoff tried awhile back to leave. She wasn’t offered the position. She has a reputation that she has earned, she stays because no one else will have her. If you think I am wrong, please, please, “steal” her from BR. We beg you, we dare you. She will work for even less, she is not worth what she makes now. She is slowly killing BR.

  • lookingallaroundme

    Lame, Lame , Lame! Medina county Superintendents except for the one that is in fiscal emergency, asking for almost 8 mills and gets all the perks the others get. Shame on the Gazette for being biased. Report on Cloverleaf!

  • Getem

    BR has discussed buying her out. They say they can’t afford to. Not sure they can afford NOT to. I think she only brings up the accrued time to remind those that can get rid of her, they will have to pay for that also. We’ll see if the Board can find the courage to do what needs to be done. An option is available, hope they have thought of it also.

  • http://www.facebook.com/traci.rydbommonroe Traci Rydbom Monroe

    Please, Please Please take “Greedy” Stepp away from Medina.

  • Getem

    Lol. I have now seen 2 letters to the editor, from people that fell for what’s in the article. Two of which are a past super and teacher. Now that’s interesting. Wyckoff is not taking her vacation pay? She’ll get it, trust me. The Board discussed buying her out. Many want her gone. I think she mentioned it only to make it know it will cost just that much more to buy her out. She knows she will have a hard time going somewhere else with her reoutation.