September 19, 2014

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Keystone Schools freezes administrator salaries again

LAGRANGE — The Keystone School District will continue to freeze salaries of administrators and bargain for lower insurance premiums for those officials as part of its ongoing efforts to contain costs.

The school board acted this week to approve an indefinite continuation of wage freezes for the district’s 12 administrators, who include Superintendent Jay Arbaugh, Treasurer Susan Bement and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dave Kish.

Salaries for the district’s administrative personnel, who also include five building principals, three supervisors and a special education director, have been frozen for two years, said Arbaugh, adding that salaries range from $35,000 for the district’s food service director to his own $108,000 salary.

“We have a fairly wide range of salaries involved, but one thing that is consistent among all of them is that they are in the bottom third of salaries countywide,” Arbaugh said.

The last raises for administrative personnel came in 2011 when they received a 2.75 percent pay increase.

Merit-based incentives also have been frozen for the time-being, Arbaugh said.

Efforts to keep costs down for insuring administrators also will continue thanks to Keystone’s membership in a consortium of 15 area school systems that collectively negotiate for cheaper insurance coverage.

The district’s administrative insurance is provided by Medical Mutual, although the provider could change based on the outcome of talks between the consortium and insurers, Arbaugh said.

While specific savings won’t be substantial, the effort is seen as a positive one, Arbaugh said.

Cuts totaling $1 million that would trim numbers of teachers and support staff, reduce curriculum offerings, raise pay-to-play fees, and increase class sizes are set to be made in January and June of next year if voters again reject a 5.95-mill operating levy in November.

Defeated in May, the issue would raise $1.4 million annually.

Keystone voters last OK’d a request for new operating funds in 1994.

Meanwhile, discussion continues on the fate of the district’s Liberty Street Elementary School, which is home to youngsters in grades K to 5. It will be at least 18 months before the district acts to auction off or tear down the school, the oldest portion of which dates to 1891.

The building is to be replaced by a $17.5 million building slated to be finished next spring.

Students likely won’t move into the new school until the start of classes for the 2015-16 school year, Arbaugh said.

Money generated from auctioning off the Liberty Street school would be used for building improvements and repairs, Arbaugh said.

Officials have yet to set an asking price for the school.

The district realized an average $290,000 from previous auctions of its Carlisle and Penfield buildings.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • Pablo Jones

    Keystone spends over $1000 per month for health insurance per staff member. How is that keeping costs down?

  • Pablo Jones

    Keystone spends over $1000 per month for health insurance per staff member. How is that keeping costs down?

    • SniperFire

      Why would a ‘journalist’ doing an expose on compensation plans simply ignore providing such critical detail on the absurd cost of these luxury insurance plans?

      One would almost think they don’t want the public to know the whole truth and make informed decisions that might perhaps conflict with political agenda.