April 20, 2014

Hazy moonlight

Medina Schools backlash delays treasurer’s new contract

Medina school board members postponed a vote on a new contract for Treasurer Jim Hudson after hearing opposition from several community members at Monday’s board meeting.

Board member Bill Grenfell shared details of the new contract in a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting, saying it would include no increase in salary or benefits.

“There is nothing in this contract that is going to increase Jim Hudson’s compensation by one dollar,” Grenfell said.

But a number of people in the audience protested that a copy of the contract wasn’t available before the meeting.

Medina resident Mark Kuhar, creator of the “Medina City Schools Outrage Page” on Facebook said, “We spent all that time working for the levy and the first thing you do, the first board meeting, you throw down an administrative contract.”

Kuhar said the community should have time to see what’s in the contract.

“A lot of people feel like the trust of this community has been betrayed again,” he said. “Are you going to vote on this tonight, after we’ve had 30 seconds to look at a contract?”

The Gazette requested a copy of the new contract Friday, but did not receive one before presstime Monday.

Before Monday’s meeting, board President Karla Robinson and Grenfell both said they would not provide a copy of the proposed contract for Hudson because it was not yet finalized.

Tim Smith, professor emeritus at Kent State University and an expert in media law, said the contract should be public under Ohio law, even if board members had not yet voted on it.

“They’ve drafted a contract, and they have a copy available to all the board members, I assume,” he said. “There’s no reason it shouldn’t be available to the public.”

Robinson said that she thought board members had agreed on the contract last week, but since the weekend, they were no longer on the same page.

“We don’t have an agreement on that contract yet,” she said. “We’re not on the same page. I had thought we were on the same page at the end of the week.”

Robinson said she’s received a lot of questions from the community about the timing of the contract vote — nearly two weeks after voters approved a five-year, 5.9-mill levy — the first since 2005.

Voters approved the levy 58 percent to 42 percent, according to unofficial final results from Medina County Board of Elections.

She said the board had a window of time between Aug. 1 this year and March 1, 2014, to approve the contract, and that the negotiation process can be long. Robinson said the board has been discussing the contract for months in executive session.

“Even though the contract won’t start until the summer, most boards would prefer to get this out of the way sooner rather than later,” she said.

Robinson said the board did a countywide salary study, and compared the contracts of all of the school treasurers in Medina. She said the board’s outside labor attorney reviewed the contract several times.

Under his current contract, which expires July 31, 2014, Hudson is paid a base salary of $90,500, plus several thousand dollars for working extended days.

Grenfell said the extended days were included in the base salary for the new contract, bringing the new base to $97,241.

Grenfell said a previous draft of the contract included a 5 percent financial incentive for Hudson based on how much net revenue he brings in for the district from a shared services agreement with Cloverleaf Schools.

But that provision was dropped, Grenfell said, after hearing from various school officials, including interim Superintendent Dave Knight, human resources department and labor unions.

Medina Schools contracts with Cloverleaf to provide treasurer services, and the district receives $72,000 from that agreement.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board voted to change the agenda item for the contract — changing it from a five-year contract starting Aug. 1, 2014, and ending July 31, 2019, to a three-year contract ending in 2017.

Another resident, Doug Eastwood, thanked the board for the change from a five-year to three-year contract, and urged the board to put off a vote.

“Not that you need our permission slip, but if there was anything legitimately that someone could look into and question, I would encourage you to put that off for a future action,” Eastwood said.

After the community comment session, Hudson asked the board to table the vote on his contract until the next regular meeting in December. He said that as a former auditor, he took his job extremely seriously.

He urged the community to contact him with questions about district finances.

“I’ve gotten a lot of good questions from the community,” he said. “Call me, email me, ask me questions about what’s been going on.”

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

  • John Leatherman

    The union was not told until Friday! This was the day after the contract was released in the Board Agenda. This is such a shame after a really positive levy. nnJohn Leatherman

  • lookingallaroundme

    “Robinson said the board has been discussing the contract for months in executive session.”nnWouldn’t the “months” this contract was discussed in executive session be really easy to ascertain When the board goes into exec session, they are supposed to state the topics to be discussed; after the session they are to return to public session with the results. Did this happen? All it takes is a public records request to know how many executive sessions have been held between a set of dates and to see the pre-executive rational and the post-executive results.

  • MedinaMom

    All they say is “to consider the appointment, employment or compensation of a public employee or official”. Anybody’s guess who they are talking about.

  • OhioGuy10

    It is embarrassing that our Treasurer is being awarded a newncontract. We need to look elsewhere after all the financial mess of the lastnyear. I really am grateful he has performed well during the re-imaging of thenschool. That should help him in his future endeavors. The fact that they pullednit and allowed it to be tabled will help them get a three year passed nextnmonth. Very disappointing. This board seems weaker by the minute. The Communitynelects them to run the schools. Having agreed to do this was wrong. It alsonseems now they are having their little squabbles that they are broadcasting publicly.nLearn to work together professionally. nnOnce again, this is the communityu2019s school. The Boardnrepresents the Community. While I do not expect every decision to go to publicnsession and be debated on (Especially after that embarrassing performance by annoutrager last night) the information should be published in a more timelynmanner so those interested parties can read and evaluate and professional feedbackn(of the constituents they represent) can be gathered by the board members.nRelease to the Union is a professional courtesy because they are an interestednparty. However, they should not have a say in any administratoru2019s contract.nThat is saying the employees get to approve the bossu2019s contract. Should notnhappen.nnI have very little issue in regards to the salary of thentreasurer but pay is earned by performance and the market. The Medinau2019s Treasureru2019s performance was an embarrassment for the first year he worked here. Should a few good months replace that?

  • medinamomofone

    Doesn’t matter if it’s a 5 year or a 3 year contract, this BOE should not be handing out ANY long term contacts. Table this until our new board members are installed and Karla and Susan are gone. The contract isn’t up until next summer. I don’t care that the board “prefers” to have this done earlier. Do what’s right and what the community is asking of you! The timing of this just couldn’t be any worse.

  • Traci Rydbom Monroe

    They go into “executive session” at every meeting, it’s beyond ridiculous.

  • lige

    I am not sure if this is fact or fiction, BUT Rumor has it the treasurer had another job opportunity that he considered within the past month or so, then decided to stay here. I keep saying that people need to look into the rest of the RS “dream team”. Until everyone is replaced, I will continue to vote no. It was a HUGE mistake to pass this levy at this time.

  • Medina Working Stiff

    This is one of the very reasons why I did not vote for the levy. I felt that with Robinson, Grenfell, and Vlcek still in office, trust would still be lacking and sure enough, it happened. Additionally, Tom Cahalan espoused the “virtues” of Treasurer Hudson during the October board meeting forgetting completely that it was Hudson`s inability to question Stepp for his ( Stepp ) never ending requests of ESC monies. Hudson ( and Gordon ) simply signed off without question. Doug Adamaczyk sang praise for Karla Robinson during the September board meeting forgetting yet again that Robinson presided over the darkest and most shameful era in Medina history. Yet, the electorate of Medina voted these two interim board members into office failing to understand that the previous and highly toxic board selected Mr Cahalan and Mr Adamczyk. That alone, should have signaled red flags to the Medina community. nnnI was told that I did not care about this ( Medina ) community when I engaged in a discussion about the levy with 4 levy supporters because I was casting a no vote. Now, me and the thousands of honest and good people of the Medina community will pay a heavy price for a misguided “yes” vote. Accountability and transparency is still lacking from this organization and then the students, parents, and community at large are held hostage to demands made by the superintendent, board, administration, select staff and a small group of teaching “professionals” if the levy is not approved. nnnI for one, do not want to hear any person that endorsed the levy complain one iota about how this inept organization continues to run roughshod over the people that they are elected and entrusted to serve. nnnMark my words Medina, within one calendar year, the Medina City Schools will be back asking for more of your tax dollars. I expect a continuous ( meaning there is no expiration date ) levy of 7 mills or higher. Remember Medinau2026u2026u2026u2026u2026u2026.. “it`s for the children!”

  • lige

    Thank you!!! everything you state is true. Hudson was here long enough to know what was going on! The only thing that I wonder about him, is if he was like the treasurer before him…questioned nothing and did not attend any of the meeting RS had when it came to money. nnnI will admit that I didnt vote for board members past or present and I voted NO on this past levy. The interim, admin and certain board members still there???? GIVE ME A BREAK…what warning did people not heed from that? There was never any real intention “For the children” and I just dont understand how frickin blind people in this town are.