June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Medina School Board moves to replace Vlcek

The Medina school board is moving quickly to find a new board member to replace Susan Vlcek, who announced she would resign next month. The board announced at Monday’s work session that applications for the vacancy would be available Friday.

According to Ohio law, the board can choose a replacement for Vlcek no earlier than 10 days and no later than 30 days after the effective date of her resignation, Jan. 1.

Susan Vlcek

The board plans to schedule interviews of applicants at its organizational meeting Jan. 6.

Robert Skidmore, who was elected to the board in November, and will take office in January, spoke in favor of an open interview process.

“I do believe that having an open component would be helpful,” he said. “If you’re asking people about their leadership styles, and their own credentials, everyone would have a different story.”

Applicants must be 18 years old, a resident of the district, and a registered voter for 30 days before their appointment.

Board President Karla Robinson also has said she would step down next year — but not until May 31.

After Vlcek’s departure, Robinson will be the only member on the board who voted for a controversial new contract for Superintendent Randy Stepp at the beginning of this year.

A public outcry over the provisions of the contract — which included an $83,000 signing bonus — led the board to rescind Stepp’s contract April 16, saying it was invalid because the Jan. 7 meeting was not properly advertised as required by Ohio’s open meeting laws.

Stepp responded by filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Akron.

The board also requested a special state audit of Stepp’s spending of district money through the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center. Stepp was placed on paid leave pending the outcome.

The audit, released Oct. 22, held Stepp responsible for more than $4,100 worth of illegal expenses, which he’s been ordered to pay back. The audit also found nearly $1 million that was spent without proper authorization — half for which the “proper public purpose was unclear.”

Two days after the audit’s release, the board voted to begin the process to fire Stepp — an action that prompted a second lawsuit from Stepp.

In other action Monday, the board voted to accept the resignation of district Treasurer Jim Hudson.

Doug Adamczyk was the only member who voted against accepting Hudson’s resignation. He said he took issue with the “short time frame” before Hudson’s departure.

Earlier in the discussion, Adamczyk asked what would happen if the board did not vote to accept Hudson’s resignation.

Robinson said it would not prevent Hudson from resigning.

“You cannot force employees to stay under contracts against their will,” she said.

Board member Bill Grenfell agreed.

“The bottom line is, you’ve got to do what’s right by people,” he said. “You don’t want a disgruntled treasurer working out the end of his contract.”

Hudson will join Avon Schools as its treasurer in two weeks, on Dec. 16. His contract will run until July 31, 2017.

Robinson and other board members thanked Hudson for his service.

“Mr. Hudson has been an exceptional treasurer for the district, and it is a big loss for the district for him to be leaving us,” Robinson said. “The changes he has made in the district have been significant and positive.”

Board member Tom Cahalan praised Hudson for organizing a community finance committee.

“I’m disappointed that we were not able to put together some type of package to make it work to keep you here,” he said.

Hudson’s appointment in Avon came a week after the Medina school board delayed a vote on a new contract for him after a public backlash over the timing of the contract — just after Medina district voters passed a levy.

The board had planned to vote on a new contract for Hudson in mid-December.

In response to the public reaction, the Medina board scaled back the contract, changing it from a five-year to a three-year agreement and removing a 5 percent bonus based on revenue generated by shared services agreements. Hudson’s new contract with Medina would have paid him a base salary of $97,241. Hudson had worked for the board since March 2012.

Hudson also serves as treasurer for Cloverleaf Schools through a shared services agreement with Medina. Cloverleaf pays Medina $6,000 a month, or $72,000 a year for treasurer services. Hudson receives $19,000 of that amount in addition to his salary.

It is not yet clear how Hudson’s resignation will affect the agreement.

In Avon, Hudson will be paid an annual salary of $112,000 for working 260 days a year and 20 vacation days.

Before he worked for Medina, Hudson served two years as treasurer for Northridge Schools in Licking County, and five years as an audit manager for the state auditor’s office.

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