Members of the Madison-Plains school board heard mixed responses Monday night about whether the board should rehire Superintendent Tim Dettwiller after he retires this summer.
Dettwiller is retiring July 31, but has told board members he will stay for three more years at a reduced salary rate of $110,000. His current salary is $120,000.
Under the new contract he would also pay his own medical insurance premium. Currently, the district pays the $4,200 premium. In total, the district would save about $15,600 annually as it projects a deficit in 2018.
Ohio law allows public employees to be rehired in the same position after retirement. Sometimes called “double-dipping,” it allows an employee to draw a salary and retirement benefits.
Several community members spoke on the topic during a public hearing.
Former board member Don Swonger cautioned the board about challenging hiring conditions should members opt to find a new superintendent. He described Madison-Plains as “average” and noted district leadership is slim throughout the state.
“The people you will probably draw are not cream of the crop,” he said, adding that “continuity is important.”
He said he doesn’t have an opinion on whether rehire-retire is right or wrong. Instead, it matters if the individual is the right person for the job.
Parent Melinda Moore said the situation “sounds kinda unethical.”
“I think we need a fresh superintendent,” she said. “Someone with fresh ideas.”
Resident Aaron Lanigan agreed, saying he is “not a fan of retire-rehire.”
“It’s not fair to the taxpayers,” he said, remarking that school leaders retire too young. “Tim did a good job. The easiest way to fix this is not retire. If you want to stay two or three years, then stay.”
Dettwiller addressed the comment in a follow-up email on Thursday. He said is he does not retire this year, he will be forced to give up receiving retirement payments.
“My choices are to give up my earned retirement income and continue employment at Madison-Plains, retire and leave Madison-Plains for another district, retire and pursue other endeavors or retire and be rehired by Madison-Plains at a reduced cost to Madison-Plains,” he said in an email. “I have provided the option of rehiring me to Madison-Plains at a reduced cost.”
Former nurse Cindy Neff questioned Dettwiller’s superintendent’s licensure, saying he was not appropriately credentialed. Dettwiller addressed the comment, saying his “alternative credential” is an official credential recognized by the state. The alternative credential is required because he did not move into the position traditionally by serving as a teacher and principal, he said.
Joe Noble spoke in the superintendent’s favor.
“Tim has got us going in the right direction and we should keep him,” he said.
Dettwiller has served twice as treasurer for Madison-Plains Schools: first in 2000 and again in 2010. He also was treasurer for Springboro Community Schools for nine years and a deputy state auditor for 13 years. He became superintendent at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
The board plans to make a decision on the issue during its next meeting, July 12. Community members are encouraged to contact board members with feedback via email or may drop off written comments at the board office.
In other business:
• Treasurer Todd Mustain noted in his financial report that the district is doing 12 percent better than expected as it rolls into the final month of its annual forecast. He said savings are due to salary adjustments and attrition.
• Teacher and parent Cynthia Victor-McConkey questioned board members on whether they planned to find a teaching position for Joe Stewart, who served as varsity basketball coach last year.
“I’d hate to see our boys have a fourth coach in five years,” she said.
Board president Mike Datz said Stewart is coming back as the coach, and they are working to find him a teaching position.
• Upon the recommendation of Joe Penney, the district’s new director of operations, board members hired Brian Garrett as the new maintenance coordinator. Penney noted the maintenance department is staffed with fewer employees this summer, but he is optimistic the summer check list will be completed.
• Penney reported the Ohio EPA found a higher lead count in a sample recently taken at the elementary school. He said it could be due to the timing of the samples because of water sitting in a pipe too long. He noted the district does not have a history of such an issue. The board asked for an update at its next meeting.
• Board members approved one-year contracts to Jamie Whiteside, aide; Molly Niese, high school biology; Karen Hinds, guidance counselor; and Savannah Brock, intervention specialist.
• The board accepted the resignations of teachers Jennifer Edgin and Amy Corns.
• Board members met in executive session to discuss personnel. No action was taken.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.