The recent revelation that the Medina Board of Education offered Superintendent Randy Stepp a retention bonus of $83,000 caused more than raised eyebrows. It caused tempers to flare. After all, teachers have been working without a contract since last year and there is a 5.9-mill levy on the May ballot. In addition, Stepp was offered a raise that could have taken his salary to $186,000.
Stepp kept the contract, but turned down the bonus and raise after the community began to divide against him and the school board.
However, the Medina Board of Education may not be so far ahead of the curve. Buckeye Association of School Administrators Director of Government Relations Thomas Ashe says what's happening in Medina is representative of a statewide trend.
"Over the last few years, we're seeing an increased number of superintendents' contracts that have some kind of a performance bonus in them and I think it reflects a movement across the nation and in Ohio for merit pay for educators, in general," said Ashe.
According to Ashe, there are at least three important variables. First, he says the federal government has made money available that is to be used an incentive for states to develop merit-based salary schedules. Second, Ashe compares the job of a superintendent to that of a CEO at a corporation that employees several hundred people and operates on millions of dollars of revenue. Third, there is an issue of supply and demand. Ashe says there's a shortage of people who are qualified and willing to fill superintendent vacancies, including many whose credentials are coupled with second thoughts.
"They're close enough to the position to say 'I don't want 24 hour, seven day a week accountability and I don't want those kind of hours' and so they're probably not even going to apply,'" said Ashe.
Ashe says there are about nine superintendent vacancies in the greater Columbus area alone.