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Bonus rumors inflated

Alissa Widman Neese • Nov 4, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Incentive-based bonuses at Margaretta Schools could net district officials an extra $900 each this year, according to district emails the Register received this week.

The emails, obtained through a public records request, indicate administrators and supervisors would receive $150 for every "A" earned on the district’s state report card.

The proposal would impact principals and other officials, but not the district’s superintendent or treasurer.

Board members have not yet approved the proposed amounts, which could change before their next meeting Nov. 18, when they’re expected to vote on the item.

They were set to vote on the proposal in September, but the board and administrators agreed they needed more time to review it. The item did not appear on October’s meeting agenda because the board’s finance committee members hadn’t yet met to discuss it.

“(The bonuses) are subject to change, but I don’t think they’ll increase,” treasurer Jude Hammond said.

The $900 bonus amount has already been factored into the district’s five-year financial forecast, Hammond said. The district’s budget is about $13 million a year.

Margaretta Schools students scored highest in the area on this year’s state report cards, earning six "As" and three "Bs" total. The scores were among the highest of all 600 school districts in the state. About a month after the state released the report cards, the incentive-based bonuses first appeared as a proposal on a board meeting agenda.

The emails the Register obtained indicate rumors surrounding the bonuses have permeated the Castalia area, particularly regarding the amount district officials would receive.

In an email exchange dated Oct. 4, Deanna Faber, a district employee, mentions a public post regarding the bonuses on the district’s Facebook page. Julie Wiswell, a relative of a Margaretta Schools employee, questioned the policy and mentioned a rumored $5,000 bonus amount, Faber said.

“Are we responding to this? Could be deadly...” board president Joann McMahon said about the Facebook post, forwarding the message to superintendent Ed Kurt.

No further email exchanges concerning the subject followed, according to the emails the Register received. When accessed this week, the district’s Facebook page did not permit individuals to post public messages on its timeline, and Wiswell’s comment was no longer visible.

Leslie Wiswell, Julie's mother, and community member Lonnie Siesel spoke against the incentive-based bonuses proposal at an October board meeting.

Leslie identified herself as a district librarian and said she hasn’t received a pay raise in five years, but Margaretta Schools treasurer Jude Hammond said Monday those statements are untrue.

Leslie is an educational aide who works in the Margaretta High School Library and is part of a classified staff union, whose members all received base pay increases in January 2012, Hammond said. She earns about $21,500 a year, or about $16 an hour.

Read Margaretta Schools administrator emails by downloading the pdf below

Margaretta Schools employees set to receive bonuses and their current salaries:

• Ryan Bohn, high school assistant principal, athletic director, $70,200

• Leroy Carroll, support services director, $76,700

• Deanna Faber, EMIS coordinator, $32,300

• Mark Freeh, technology director, $62,600

• Kathy Hall, school psychologist, special education supervisor, $77,400

• Lynn Hurd, elementary school principal, $84,200

• Sarah Ransom, food services supervisor, $40,900

• Troy Roth, high school principal, $90,100

The proposed bonuses are $150 per “A” received on the district’s state report card, or $900 total this year, according to emails the Register obtained through a public records request.

Note: All figures rounded

Note: This post has been modified to clarify information that inaccurately identified a Margaretta Schools employee.

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