Olentangy Local School District officials say administrative reductions since 2010 have cut overall personnel costs by about $1.2 million.
That's despite raises of 3 percent to 29 percent awarded to administrators in contracts renewed at a school board meeting last Thursday, March 14.
The board voted 4-1 to approve one-, two- and three-year contracts for 37 principals, assistant principals and other administrators, including the district's technology director, food service supervisor, athletics director and custodial supervisor.
The contracts are effective starting Aug. 1. Last August, the board lifted wage freezes on administrators, who hadn't seen raises since 2009.
A few will receive hefty raises this year, but Superintendent Wade Lucas said those people are taking on additional responsibilities for six administrators who have resigned or retired since 2010 and haven't been replaced.
Board members said the district is saving money overall, despite the increases.
"We are not replacing six administrators, and the increases don't even come close to what those salaries were," said board member Julie Wagner Feasel.
Lucas described the new duties some administrators have taken on.
Jennifer Iceman, the district's workers' compensation director, has new responsibilities as coordinator of safety procedures. That bumped her salary from $55,000 to $77,221 -- a 29 percent increase.
Business Manager Jeff Gordon took over duties for former Facilities Manager Andy Kerr, who left the district. His salary was increased from $96,821 to $110,733 -- a 13 percent increase.
"These individuals are taking on additional duties, and along with that comes additional pay," Lucas said.
Board member Adam White voted against the increases, saying administrators should pay into their pensions. Under the new contracts, administrators still contribute nothing to their retirement accounts.
White added the increases far exceed what many private-sector employees are receiving.
"We're sheltering these employees from the real world at the expense of the taxpayers," White said.
Board President Kevin O'Brien argued the raises keep Olentangy competitive. He said Olentangy's average administrator salary of $81,000 ranks below competing districts.
According to a report released by the Ohio Department of Education, the state average for districts deemed "similar" to Olentangy, based on size, demographics and other factors, is $89,000.
In the Upper Arlington and Dublin school districts, administrative salaries average about $103,000.
"I think we have demonstrated a track record of being very disciplined with administrative salaries against the state average and the two districts we compete the most with for administrative talent," O'Brien said.
Also at last week's meeting, the board approved contracts for the employment of 21 intervention tutors and gave its nod to 58 supplemental contracts, mostly for coaches and school-trip chaperones.
Board members also approved new guidelines for superintendent evaluations.
The guidelines coincide with new procedures for teacher evaluations, upping the frequency of the superintendent assessments to twice per year.
"It's going to line up with the treasurer evaluation, the principals' evaluation and the teacher evaluation, so we're all going to be on the same page," Feasel said.
Also approved was the purchase of NetRequest software for $63,352. It will be used to track and plan for capital purchases for all school buildings.