April 17, 2014

Partly cloudy

Medina school board responds to Gazette questions concerning superintendent

Medina Board of Education President Charles Freeman, left, and member Susan Vlcek attend a March 15 board meeting. (GAZETTE FILE)

Statement from the Medina City Schools Board of Education, March 22nd, 2013:

1. When the board agreed to pay the cost of Dr. Stepp’s past education, did you have a general idea of how large the bill would be?

The Board of Education encouraged Dr. Stepp’s education and professional development. The Board of Education was aware that Dr. Stepp was receiving tuition reimbursement. The Board was not aware of the extent of the reimbursement or that it applied to all degrees.

Board member involvement varies in regard to this issue due to the varied terms in which they serve.

The past procedure for reimbursement was such that the Board was not informed of the payments/contracts between the Board and the Medina County Educational Service Center (ESC). However, the district treasurer has already begun to work with the Educational Service Center to put procedures in place that will provide more oversight.

2. When did you know the $172,000 cost of Dr. Stepp’s college loan was paid by the Educational Service Center?

It is common practice to work with the Medina County Educational Service Center for the purpose of service contracts. This practice often results in significant cost savings for the district. The tuition reimbursement came out of the ESC fund as there was a fund surplus from services not used. The Board learned of this expenditure on March 6, 2013, as a result of the public records request.

As stated previously, the district treasurer has already begun to work with the Educational Service Center to put procedures in place that will provide more oversight. The treasurer will provide the Board with an update on these procedures at the March 27th, 2013 public meeting.

3. Did Dr. Stepp ever provide an itemization of his college costs? If not, did the board ever ask him to do so?

At the Board’s request on March 15, 2013, Dr. Stepp provided the Board with a summary of his U.S. Department of Education loan history, not an itemization of his college costs.

4. Has the Board decided how the $83,000 bonus will be paid back? If so, how?

As you know, Dr. Stepp is voluntarily repaying his $83,000 incentive bonus and forgoing his merit-based pay that would have totaled another $36,000.

As he has in the past two years, Dr. Stepp is focusing on achieving the goals enumerated in his contract, while not accepting any merit-based pay for achieving those goals. Together, the Board and Dr. Stepp identified the areas they felt were critical to the advancement of the district.

Dr. Stepp will be paying $512.45 per pay period (162 pays) through the term of his contract for a total of $13,323.70 a year.

In closing: At the time of these decisions, the Board believed that Dr. Stepp brought value to the Medina City School District. Historically, Medina has had an assistant superintendent. In an effort to decrease administrative costs, since the summer of 2010 he has agreed to work without an assistant superintendent. Data from low-spending, high-performing districts (as classified by the State Auditors Performance Audit group) indicates that superintendents receiving base salaries within the range of Dr. Stepp’s, typically have an assistant superintendent. On his watch, we have reduced our administrative costs to a level that is among the lowest in the state. We have also reduced non-personnel expenditures by nearly $11 million since 2006. The district has continually been recognized as Excellent by the state of Ohio.

Going forward, the Board is committed to regaining community trust and increasing the transparency of our activities. We continue to be focused on providing our students an excellent education in a fiscally responsible manner. We welcome continued community engagement with the Board; our next public meeting will take place on March 27th, 2013, 6pm, at Medina High School Distance Learning Laboratory.

Medina City Schools Board of Education
Charley Freeman
Karla Robinson
Susan Vlcek
Bill Grenfell

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

    Public Relations propaganda, it’s all BS.

  • common sense

    I would like to thank the Gazette for exposing this mess. It is about time someone reported the truth. I would also like to thank the 17 people who have applied for the vacant School Board Seat. You have got to know you are walking into a real mess. Best of luck to you. As a life long resident of this town, I would like to make a suggestion for the up coming election. After the vacant seat is filled, we are going to have 16 people who are left. Lets take the levy off of the ballot, dis-miss the current Board and fill the vacancies through an election of the 16 candidates that are left. Then, after we get the truth to what is really going on, can we make a rational desicion as to the levy. As long as this current board is in place, we will never get the whole story or the truth.

  • Gary Hooker

    The BOE states: “The board was not aware of the extent of the reimbursement or that it applied to all degrees.”nNot aware of the extent = incompetencenNot aware that it applied to all degrees = less than truthful. In Nov, 2011 the BOE approved the amendment to Stepp’s 2009 contract that obligated the BOE to pay the costs associated with the superintendent’s acquisition of PAST academic degrees (I capitalized the word “past” for emphasis). Why was this amendment made if it wasn’t to pay Stepp’s bills? Who amongst us went to college, got a job and then demanded their employer reimburse their college expenses or they would look at other job opportunities? If we had, I suspect our employer would have told us to pack up and get out! If your employer is the Medina BOE, you not only get your college costs reimbursed but you get a new contract with raises, bonuses and a host of other perks!nnThe members of this BOE along with Stepp want this issue to be put behind us. The only way that will happen is with their resignations.

  • FactChecker

    Translation: “Okay, we were totally unaware and didn’t bother to read what we were signing. We were all hungry for sushi and those executive sessions are totally boring with lots of hard numbers and math and reading and things like that. But don’t worry. We promise we will actually have someone else who knows what they’re doing look at these things next time! Now, doesn’t everyone feel better? Yay!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1540908930 Cliff Donoughe

    The manner in which this fund was run borders on criminal. If a CEO of a company pulled this stunt, we’d be watching a ‘perp walk’ instead of just wonder how to fix it. The fact that the BOE didn’t know how much they approved should be criminally negligent and each should be sued for the amount that Stepp awarded himself.

  • linda

    it just makes you wonder what else we do not know, kind of scary

  • http://twitter.com/Mielegirl Mielegirl

    You paid $20,000 to craft this response? Wow!