Some school employees receive longevity pay

EAST LIVERPOOL – More than $29,000 in longevity pay for employees was approved Monday night by the city school board, but a move to give the same pay to administrative personnel was nipped in the bud.

With member Brian Allen abstaining, the board voted to give 34 classified employees the extra pay, ranging from $650 to $1,050, depending on years of service.

Those with 15-19 years received $650; those with 20-24 years, $850 and those with 25 up to 40 years, $1,050.

Allen said after the meeting he abstained from the vote due to his mother, Linda Allen, being included among those receiving the longevity pay. She has 29 years with the district, according to the board agenda.

In a memo the previous Friday to board members, Superintendent James Herring addressed the issue of longevity, questioning why the topic was listed on the agenda for board approval when it is a part of their negotiated contract, and had been prior to him taking the reins.

He also forwarded the board a March 21 letter from buildings and grounds Director Mark Reed who wrote that he had sufficient time invested in the district to be eligible for the longevity compensation and that the board had previously awarded it to administrators in resolution form.

Reed said that not having received the longevity pay would be the same as a reduction in his salary and his contract says his salary cannot be reduced.

In the same memo, called “Herring’s Headlines,” the superintendent said the board approved longevity for non-union administrative/classified personnel in February 2010 and again in June 2011, saying that action has never been rescinded in any minutes he could find and had been awarded every year up to this point.

In addition, Herring questioned whether or not the board president has the authority to remove agenda items or if any single board member has the right to give directives to any staff member, saying these items needed to be discussed in executive session during Monday’s meeting.

Herring was referring to an agenda item in which Reed and another administrator was to be granted the same longevity pay as the OAPSE members received, which was removed from the agenda prior to Monday’s meeting.

Before the meeting started, this reporter advised Martin that Ohio’s open meeting laws (Sunshine Law) prohibits a public body from meeting in executive session to discipline an elected official for conduct related to performance of that elected official’s official duties.

Regardless, the board did, in fact, discuss the issue and Martin’s alleged part in it, during the closed-door session, which she confirmed afterward.

Martin said, however, that she did not issue a directive to Herring’s secretary to remove the agenda item, saying she looked over the agenda and called the secretary to have her tell Herring that administrative longevity was no longer given out.

“She sent me a new agenda and (the item about Reed’s longevity) was removed. I did not tell her to remove it. That didn’t happen,” Martin said.

According to Martin, OAPSE members bargained for receipt of longevity pay and, at some point in the past, administrators’ names began appearing on the list of recipients and they were receiving it every year, not in the 10-year increments longevity was supposed to be paid.

When discovered once Martin was on the board, the practice was stopped, she said, adding that the board’s legal counsel has determined there is nothing documenting longevity pay for administrators except the treasurer.