Julie Keegan kept quiet as she listened to critics of the school district at a public forum on April 20, but she made her opinions very clear at the beginning of Monday night's meeting of the Worthington Board of Education.

Julie Keegan kept quiet as she listened to critics of the school district at a public forum on April 20, but she made her opinions very clear at the beginning of Monday night's meeting of the Worthington Board of Education.

"The reason I support the levy this board voted to put on the May 5 ballot is that I know our district is being led by intelligent, thoughtful stewards of the taxpayer dollars who care about our current students and the future of the Worthington Schools," she said.

Keegan, along with fellow board members Charlie Wilson and Marc Schare, attended the forum sponsored by Educate Worthington held at the Northwest Library a week earlier.

The three declined to speak, saying they did not want to violate Ohio's open meeting laws that prohibit board members from commenting when a quorum of the public body is together but the requirements of a public meeting have not been met.

This week, she shot back at those who questioned teacher salaries, union contracts and generous benefits, saying that voting decisions should not be based on such issues.

Average teacher salary is $66,767, not $70,229, as Educate Worthington leaders Mike Alfred and John Herrington assert, she said.

Herrington said on Tuesday that his figures are based on the figures supplied to him by board treasurer Jeff McCuen, and he did not understand the discrepancy.

Also, Keegan said she does not understand why so much is being made of the fact that between 87 and 88 percent of the district's budget covers personnel costs.

"I personally always want to live in a district that spends the overwhelming majority of its budget on the staff," she said. "Education is a people-driven pursuit."

All districts pay teachers according to the grid that makes sure that teachers receive additional salary for experience and additional education attained as well as the annual increase to their base pay. That system has come under criticism during this levy campaign.

Worthington must continue to use the system or risk not being able to attract top quality staff, she said.

Wilson said he agreed, and pointed out that Worthington teachers are the eighth highest paid among 16 central Ohio school districts.

"I think we're better than eighth best," he said. "We're getting a bargain."

Also on Monday, the board approved the hiring of two assistant principals at Thomas Worthington High School.

They will replace George Joseph, who will take the position vacated by Paul Cynkar. The new title of the position will be executive director of administrative services.

The other current assistant principal, Victoria Hartley, will also join the central administration. Her title will be coordinator of academic achievement and professional development.

The new assistant principals will be Rebecca Chattman and Geno Smith. Her salary will be $85,905; his will be $92,102.

Chattman, 27, is an intervention specialist at Reynoldsburg High School, where she has been employed for two years. She has also taught in Washington, D.C., and in New York City. She graduated from Reynoldsburg High School in 2000, received a degree from Spelman College and a master's degree from Mercy College in New York.

Smith, 39, is assistant principal at Northland High School. He has been at Northland for two years and before that was employed at Brookhaven High School and Ft. Hayes High School. He has a bachelor's and a master's degree from Ohio State University and is working on his Ph.D. at Ashland University.