Salaries frozen for school admins

Salaries for Wapakoneta City Schools administrators are being frozen.
Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members unanimously approved the salary freeze for the 2011-12 school year during Tuesday’s meeting.
The freeze would apply to the superintendent, operations director, director of instruction, treasurer and athletic director, as well as principals and assistant principals of the elementary schools, the middle and high school.
Superintendent Keith Horner said the move will result in savings for the money-strapped district, but how much could be saved by freezing administrator salaries was unavailable.
“We thank our administrators for so willingly
jumping into a salary freeze as well as for the work they do,” Horner said. “They know the situation and the financial health of the district is too important.”
Board member Pat Gibson echoed that sentiment thanking administrators for their help with the district’s financial situation.
Horner and Operations Director Mike Watt took salary freezes last year, and Treasurer Susan Rinehart took a salary freeze a few years ago.
“It wasn’t done across the board, but voluntary,” Horner said of previous salary freezes. “Our financial condition is very, very concerning. We’re trying to take steps to mitigate future problems. It’s something we’ve been doing. This is just another step.”
Despite previous decisions made to cut personnel expenses through RIFs (reduction in force), not replacing staff and eliminating programs and supplemental positions, Horner said they are still spending more than they are taking in.
“We’ve significantly reduced staff in the past three years and we will have another reduction this year,” Horner said. “Expenditures are not matching revenue. There are only so many ways we can cut.”
Horner said one factor contributing to the problem has been the district’s big expenses increasing too quickly. Health care is increasing by double digits adding up to an even larger cost. Health care already is a large expense and a big percentage of the district’s budget,
In addition, Wapakoneta City Schools are expecting to receive $1.2 million less from the state during the next two years.
“This is all a long way of saying we’re broke,” Horner said.
Negotiations with staff, which started in the spring for a contract expiring next June, already are at an impasse with a meeting scheduled with a mediator in August.
He could not comment on the reason for the impasse.
“Hopefully we’ll work that out,” Horner said. “It’s a difficult time for everybody.
“Teachers work extra hard to provide a good experience for students,” he said. “Sometimes what we want to give and what we can afford to give are two different things.”