By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
GROVE CITY —
Salaries for non-union workers at Grove City schools included suggested raises as high as 4-plus percent by Superintendent Dr. Richard Mextorf, which resulted in school directors demanding less on Wednesday.
The administrative salaries fall under Act 93, as well as other positions in the district coming up for raises, which will be voted on - along with raises for Mextorf and Kim Buchanan, business manager - at the 7 p.m. business meeting on Monday.
In the meantime, the board asked Mextorf to make changes to the suggested salary increases for the district's principals and technology coordinator; eight total employees among 22 getting raises under Act 93.
On Wednesday, Mextorf suggested that the administrators receive an extra $2,858 each for this school year, causing raise percentages to fluctuate from 2.75 to 4.41 percent. Mextorf began at the 2.75 baseline, because teachers received that percentage.
"I couldn't justify administrators getting any less than teachers," he said - some do, based on the amount of hours they log into their jobs, although "they have a lot more responsibility."
Mextorf said the average teacher's annual salary is $58,600 - some make more; some less - which would come to about $45/hour considering hours put in. Administrators' annual salaries are higher on paper, but average $43/hour when factoring the hours they work - with some making less or more, Mextorf added.
"That's why you see administrator vacancies all over the place because they never get in the (salary) pipeline of the superintendent," he said. "I feel they are deserving of this."
Of the directors who were reluctant, Mextorf asked they if they were concerned about how the higher percentages would look to the public "once it's put in the paper?" A few nodded "yes."
Director William Norris proposed a 2.75 percent raise be awarded to each administrator, and the $19,520 total amount needed to cover those raises could be divided however Mextorf wished, he said.
Mextorf's figures would require $22,864 to cover the eight raises; Norris' would garner a savings of $3,344 - but the overall percentage numbers would come down a bit with the base of 2.75 percent.
Mextorf wanted to make the adjustment so the board would approve the raises on Monday; voting down the current figures would lower morale, he said. "I don't want this voted down and these folks feel beat up."
He strongly suggested that Buchanan get a 3-percent increase, however.
"It's not just about money. Kim is stellar. She is my right-hand person. She is a direct extension of my brain," he said.
"I'm trying to get her to not apply for the IU job," Mextorf added, tongue in cheek, referring to an administrative position open at the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV in Grove City. "These people have lots of flexibility," he noted, to get higher paying jobs elsewhere.
Since the retirement of former business manager Valarie Phillips, who did an excellent job, Buchanan's work is similar to a chief financial officer's with more responsibility, added board President Sue Herman.
School directors agreed to the raise; the 3-percent will would bring Buchanan's salary to $76,694 - with an additional amount of $2,101 for acting as board secretary.
Mextorf's salary was also discussed. He did not make guaranteed raises a part of his contract when he came to the district two years ago, adding that a colleague with half his experience has a guaranteed raise of $4,500 annually, he said.
"There's no rhyme or reason to this. That's why I came in and said 'Let's look at it (each year).' ... You can do what you want. You won't hurt my feelings," he said.
Mextorf's salary is $129,540.
He offered the directors a sheet with various raise amounts, which could bring his salary up to over $133,000 for a 2.75 percent raise to nearly $135,000 for a 3.75 percent raise.
Herman, a strong supporter of Mextorf, encouraged the board to be generous and reward the level of expertise he brings to the district that has resulted in many positive changes in two years.
In meeting superintendents state-wide, "There's no one I'd want to sit beside me than this man. Why wouldn't we have at least three percent?" she said. "He's spent hours mentoring me."
Similar to the other administrative salaries, the board settled on a 2.75 percent raise for Mextorf.
"It's a pretty good raise in the business world," said director William Reznor.
Hiring an assistant for Mextorf was again discussed at the meeting.
Unlike former Superintendent Dr. Robert Post, who had Tom Bell as his right-hand man, Mextorf has no assistant superintendent. However, he took four months off from work last school year to be treated for colon cancer, and George Junior Republic Principal Jim Anderson stepped into the superintendent's shoes.
Mextorf would like to make him assistant to the superintendent - rather than assistant superintendent like Bell - to serve as director of operations. Anderson would focus on important, ongoing issues that arise day to day like buildings, maintenance and safety - and simply being another top administrator for the public to turn to.
Mextorf would then be free to sink his teeth into mentoring his teachers and advancing education in the district, which is happening on some levels but "in between the cracks," the superintendent said. Mextorf would like to spend less time putting out fires and more time advancing staff and students.
The majority of the board members are reluctant to pay for the change, which was echoed again on Wednesday.
Mextorf knew when coming to Grove City that he would have to do the superintendent/assistant superintendent jobs.
Herman reminded the board how much the district has saved money due to Mextorf's ingenuity.
However, many directors feel Mextorf has himself advanced the district above and beyond the board's expectations. He has received "glowing" feedback from the school community, according to Reznor.
Faye Bailey and Scott Somora also felt the assistant's position should be considered without factoring in Anderson's name, like other positions in the district.
The board will continue talks about an assistant, although director Adam Renick wondered why. "How long do you drag this out?" He asked. "I want to know my return on my investment. My opinion is this district is moving ahead fast. It seems this ship is running smooth and showing a return."
Mextorf has talked at length about things he'd like to be more intimately involved in regarding education. On Wednesday, he said he would ponder more details to bring to the board, which will hopefully help them understand how much more he could do for Grove City with more time.
Until then, the board will discuss the subject again "when we have something new," Mextorf said. "Let me come back to you so I can paint a picture."
Published Sept. 7, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.