Worthington News

From 11 to 14 percent

Board raises managers' retirement payments


The Worthington Board of Education will pay approximately 14 percent of each administrator's salary into his or her state retirement account beginning this year, according to a three-year benefits package approved by the board Monday night, July 28.

By increasing the amount paid into the state retirement system from 11 percent, the board essentially granted a 3-percent raise to administrators next year, rather than the 1.5 percent in salary alone, according to board member Marc Schare.

He and the other four board members unanimously approv-ed the benefits package, praising the district's building principals and central-office administrators for doing a good job.

"People would be astounded at how hard our administrators work," board president Julie Keegan said. "They do important work that the majority of our public misses."

Schare also approved the benefits package, though he acknowledged that all districts often obfuscate salary increases within benefits because the public in general sees administrators as a waste of money.

"Since administrators are associated with overhead and overhead is associated with waste, school districts seek to minimize that perception by minimizing or, more likely, downplaying administrative salaries and benefits," he said.

Worthington continues the tradition of hiding compensation in fringe benefits packages, he said.

In past years, each administrator was paid an annual lump sum of $2,790, an amount that sometimes would not show up in databases. That cash payment has been discontinued with the increase in the pickup of the retirement-fund payment.

Still, anyone looking up Worthington's administrative salary burden might not know about the retirement pickup because it usually is not included in state databases, he said.

"While there are some small cost savings in providing compensation via STRS retirement pickup, the main reason for going this route is if you're looking to bury compensation in a document that few are likely to peruse," Schare said.

He made clear that he did not object to the increase, only to the lack of transparency and to the lack of a merit-pay component in the package.

"The agreement is otherwise worthy of support, and I intend to do so," he said.

Other benefits covered in the new package are as follows:

* Administrators will pay 14 percent of their monthly premium for health insurance, with the board's 86 percent capped at a total increase of 1 percent annually through 2017.

* Beginning June 1, 2015, each administrator will be paid an annual performance payment ranging from nothing (if deemed ineffective) to $1,000.

* Each administrator will receive 20 vacation days, holidays, 15 days a year of sick leave (which can accumulate without limit), three personal days and 10 days of professional leave.

* Administrators' children will be permitted to enroll in the Worthington schools on a "space-available" basis.