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Education


Medina school board, teachers are reviewing more than $300,000 in expenditures
'Growth coach' expenditures join the review of signing bonus, tuition for Superintendent Randy Stepp
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 
In The Region:
CORRECTION: The name of the head of Medina's teacher's union was incorrect in this story. He is John Leatherman.

On the heels of a new teachers’ contract, and with a levy vote coming in May, the Medina school board is looking into expenditures from a special account by Superintendent Randy Stepp – and so is the teachers’ union. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports.
Medina school board, teachers reviewing Superintendent's expenditures

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The district’s review stems from the revelation that it paid more than a quarter-million dollars toward Stepp’s MBA and college loans, plus a bonus he received to re-sign with the district in January. The education money came from the carryover from a fund held by the county school board that’s intended to pay for school nurses and special needs instructors.

New contract for teachers
Teachers’ union president John Leatherman says he learned the source of the payments in March, just hours after telling Stepp that teachers had tentatively agreed to a new contract. The pact includes pay freezes and increased insurance costs. Leatherman is now going through 800 pages of school expenditures.

“I mean, we just found out a little less than a week ago [that] they hired a guy called a ‘growth coach’ and he trained six administrators for a day in August. And they paid him almost $80,000. And they paid him out of that same account, and the only person that had to approve it was our superintendent.”

New controls
During last week’s board meeting, Treasurer Jim Hudson outlined tighter controls for expenditures from that account, which previously only required Stepp’s approval.
The teachers’ union has given a “no confidence” vote to the school board, and some residents have called for the entire board’s resignation. President Charles Freeman did just that last week, handing the reins to Karla Robinson.
She’s fielded angry but civil comments from the public and teachers, saying board members didn’t realize the total for Stepp’s education was so high. But she understands their frustration.

“We’re still trying to fully brief ourselves as to what happened. People might be annoyed by the speed of our investigation, considering these facts were brought to light earlier in March. Because of sunshine laws, we’re a board that can’t sit down every day and talk about these issues unless we notify the public. Furthermore, this is not a full-time job for us. All of us have outside work and we’re giving as much as we can to this right now. But the pace of change for and governmental entity is always going to be slower than the public would like.”

Going forward
Robinson says she hopes parents, galvanized by the spending revelations, use that same energy to support the 5.9 mill levy in May. Teachers’ union President Leatherton says that could be tricky. And he cautiously suggested that Stepp’s resignation might alleviate the situation. For his part, the superintendent has agreed to re-pay the $83,000 signing bonus through payroll deductions.
Listener Comments:

John Leatherman for Superintendent of Medina City Schools!


Posted by: Janice Krusoczky on April 1, 2013 12:04PM
sigh. John LEATHERMAN, not Leatherton.


Posted by: Itibrout on April 1, 2013 6:04AM
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