The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 28, 2013

Geneva BOE freezes wages

Reduction in force letters will be handed out to teachers

Star Beacon

GENEVA — Geneva Area City Schools Superintendent Mary Zappitelli will walk the halls of the five schools in the district today and hand out reduction in force letters to teachers and other certified staff.

The letters come just one day after the board of education voted to freeze wages to all district administrators, directors and supervisors for the third year in a row.

The wage freeze will affect all administrative positions and several other non-union positions, Zappitelli said at the board of education meeting on Wednesday night.

“I want to be clear that we are not making any cuts at this time,” Zappitelli said. “We will analyze enrollment numbers and determine our staffing needs from this school year to next school year.”

Zappitelli said every nickel is under scrutiny in the district’s tight budget.

“We are looking at the entire staff and we will make an informed decision. I can tell you that it is upsetting to get a “RIF” letter and I can say that it is upsetting to be the one to give them out. But at this time, we are looking at every single nickel.”

District treasurer Kevin Lillie said the wage freezes at the administrative level doesn’t “save” the district any money — it only maintains the status quo.

“It doesn’t save anything,” he said. “It simply doesn’t increase the spending. It doesn’t increase savings, either — it simply keeps the number flat.”

Lillie said a pay freeze for the third straight year is a lot to ask of the staff.

“Our administrators have had more kids per administrator than in most districts,” he said, “and our administrator expense per pupil is quite low. Out total number of administrators is low, and they take on more responsibilities as administrators than most positions require.”

Zappitelli said the wage freeze is tough to explain in a tough economy with an unforgiving, and shrinking budget.

“It’s a tough time to be in public education,” she said.

The board of education will continue to look for avenues of savings, Zappitelli said.

“We will continue to study busing and the busing routes and the costs associated,” she said.