Licking County News

Licking Heights

District deals with high rate of staff turnover

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Licking Heights Superintendent Philip Wagner estimates that one-seventh to one-sixth of the district's staff will have turned over by the next school year.

He also estimates the district will have hired 51 employees by next school year, although very few of those are new positions.

"It's certainly been a busy summer," he said.

June 28 was the last day for Curriculum Director Tyrone Olverson, who accepted a position as Finneytown Local Schools superintendent, and the last day for South Elementary principal Renae Schwartz, who accepted an elementary principal position with Delaware City Schools.

Licking Heights High School interim principal Mark White stepped down from his position, as well.

Wagner attributes some of the district's staff changes to employees seeking better compensation elsewhere, but he also said many staff members applied for new jobs when Licking Heights' attempt at an 8.9-mill levy failed Nov. 6.

Although the same levy request was approved May 7, some staff members already set their job searches in motion.

Wagner said the retirement rate also has been high.

The school board approved important hires during a special meeting June 27.

Ken Kraemer was hired as the new Licking Heights High School principal on a two-year contract effective July 24 with a total compensation package of $101,827.67, including an annual salary of $80,528, according to Treasurer Jennifer Vanover.

Angel King was hired as curriculum director on a two-year contract beginning Aug. 1 with a total compensation package of $84,257.43, including an annual salary of $66,633, Vanover said.

In addition, King will receive seven extended days, at her per diem rate, to be used from July 8 through July 23. She was hired through the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

Wagner said the hires were brought in under a modified contract that deletes the administrative benefit of "pick up on the pickup," whereby, Vanover said, the board would no longer pay an additional 1 percent on employee and employer contributions to the State Teacher Retirement System to reflect a higher salary on STRS records.

Three returning administrators also were given new contracts effective July 24 under the same change.

Kim Henderson, Licking Heights West Elementary School principal, was given a three-year contract with a total compensation of $107,433.18, including an annual salary of $84,961.

Brandi Wade, Licking Heights West assistant principal, was given a two-year contract with a total compensation of $85,459.97, including an annual salary of $67,584.

Robin Keating, Licking Heights Central Elementary School assistant principal, was given a two-year contract with a total compensation of $89,530.39, including an annual salary of $70,803.

All three administrators are returning at their previous salaries, but Wagner estimated that deleting the "pick up on the pickup" would save the district roughly $8,900 next year.

Board member Richard Wand likened those "pick-up" contributions to the matching contributions in a 401(k) plan.

"That's what we stopped doing," he said, adding that the employees won't notice a difference on their paychecks, but they will receive reduced total retirement benefits.

"We're trying to run the district more like industry," Wand said.

Wagner said the personnel changes have thus far been positive.

"We're finding some good quality candidates," he said.

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