The Licking Heights school board held legally mandated public hearings July 19 on a proposal to rehire two employees who are retiring in order to trigger their state pensions, but who intend to continue working for the district.

The Licking Heights school board held legally mandated public hearings July 19 on a proposal to rehire two employees who are retiring in order to trigger their state pensions, but who intend to continue working for the district.

The employees are Allen Rogers, facilities manager, and Ron Nutter, custodian.

District resident Dan Bauer declined to speak during the public hearing but did speak in public comments after the hearing had closed.

Bauer said the district should hire qualified people who do not have jobs.

"As a taxpayer in this district, I object greatly to this plan based on ethical principles," Bauer said. "We are living at a time in our economy when we are in big trouble. Many young people are out of work. Ethically, I believe our school districts should not hire employees who have retirement income. I believe the jobs should go to unemployed people who need income to survive in this troubled economy."

Bauer said the district should save money by hiring younger workers.

"Hiring new employees rather than retiring employees should result in a savings to the school district," Bauer said. "Generally speaking, retiring employees are at the top of the pay scale and new employees could be hired at less pay, benefiting the school district financially."

Board president Matt Satterwhite said he disagreed with the argument.

"Just a comment on double dipping: I'm a firm believer in the free exchange of ideas and reasonable minds can disagree," Satterwhite said. "I always love when someone comes and shares their views, so I really respect that.

"The thing I'll say about the decision, my decision is based on kids in the district. When you have someone who is really performing, I think it's important that the district retain someone like that. I understand your position, but I want you to know it's not easy to put all decisions in one box like that."

Bauer also encouraged the district to take steps to join with unions and teachers and administrators associations in the state to argue against expanded funding for community schools and other nondistrict education options.

"Our elected officials' unwillingness to address this issue is not acceptable," Bauer said. "Every piece of legislation coming out of the Statehouse is going to reduce the effectiveness of public schools in favor of charter and private schools."