Superintendent Speaks on Giving up Pay Raise

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MEDINA, Ohio -- A local superintendent has agreed to return a recent raise and bonus after pressure from the community with a financially struggling school district.

Meanwhile, hundreds of teachers say they have no confidence in his leadership or the school board.

"It hurt me inside to think that I had been involved with something that was this controversial, and I did not want to be a part of that and I thought the best thing for the school district was to voluntarily give it back," superintendent Dr. Randy Stepp told FOX 8.

Dr. Stepp agreed Thursday to give back an $83,000 bonus he received in January as well as merit raises, which freezes his salary at just under $135,000.

He said public outcry from a school board meeting Wednesday helped shape his decision. "I don't want to be a part of something that damages our opportunity to pass a levy and I felt hearing from the community that this is what I needed to do," Dr. Stepp said.

Thursday evening, hundreds of teachers attended a closed-door meeting at Medina High School to hear details of a tentative labor agreement with the school board. During the meeting, they unanimously passed a "no confidence" resolution against the superintendent and the school board.

"We have placed our utmost confidence in our staff over my tenure on the board. We invested heavily into great people in our school districts," responded school board member Susan Vlcek.

"My hope is that we think about the community, the kids and that's my hope, but obviously we got a lot of new news today," said Medina City Teachers Association president John Leatherman.

Leatherman says hours before the meeting, he received public documents that showed Dr. Stepp had also received about $244,000 to further his education.

"I believe that the excessive amount of his reimbursement is our major concern, especially since the last three contracts that the teachers have approved and taken have been concessionary in nature," said Gary Kovach, a labor relations consultant with the Ohio Education Association.

"We asked him to continue his education to receive his master's in business, to get his PhD because we believe that's what it takes to provide the kind of leadership you need for a $70 million organization and to take us in the direction that we're heading," said Vlcek.

Lori Berger is a parent and teacher in the district with a message for the superintendent and the board. "Thank you for giving that back, but I have a problem with all the education you got paid for now. It's a double edge sword. It's not enough," she said.

Dr. Stepp says other school districts have shown interest in him, but he plans to stay put in Medina.

Teachers plan to vote on their tentative agreement on Wednesday.

A public meeting is scheduled for Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. at the high school.

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