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Teachers ask board to keep superintendent

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Abbie Smith, president of the teachers union in the Millcreek-West Unity Local School District, wants the school board to reconsider its decision and retain Superintendent Ken Boyer. He has been with the district 10 years.

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WEST UNITY, Ohio - School administrators and teachers oftentimes find themselves in dueling situations, especially when it comes to contract discussions and budget cuts.

In the Millcreek-West Unity Local School District, though, unionized teachers have come to the defense of longtime Superintendent Ken Boyer by publicly asking school board members to reconsider their recent decision not to renew his contract.

"I think Mr. Boyer's been committed to the school," said Abbie Smith, the union president. "He's been with us 10 years, and we're kind of puzzled what kind of road they're leading us down."

At a meeting last month, board members voted 3-2 not to renew Mr. Boyer's contract when it expires in August, 2005, which means the upcoming school year will be his last in the school district.

The vote for nonrenewal - which didn't appear on the board's agenda - was taken without public discussion. It followed two earlier votes that same night, one similar 3-2 decision not to extend Mr. Boyer's contract for an extra year and another 3-2 vote defeating a proposed teacher's contract with the district.

Mr. Boyer had been involved in negotiating that contract, which is scheduled to expire at the end of July. The superintendent said some board members wanted a contract reopener for health insurance, something that didn't appear in the proposed pact.

Still, Mr. Boyer said he doesn't believe the negotiations played a role in the board's decision. But he said he's left without any solid explanations.

"I really don't know," Mr. Boyer said. "I have positive evalua-

tions. We have a good performance as a school system."

Stephen Marvin, board president and one of the votes to get rid of Superintendent Boyer, said he was aware of the union's stance but said it wouldn't be fair for him to comment about the board's reasoning behind Mr. Boyer's nonrenewal.

He added that he couldn't speculate as to whether the matter will be discussed or reviewed again until the board meets and makes that decision as a whole.

Board Vice President Mick McGuire, who also voted against Mr. Boyer's continued employment, said that as a board member he has received feedback from the community both for and against the firing of Mr. Boyer.

He said the issue could come up at the board's next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

Ms. Smith said teachers have future concerns about the small district's ability to continue attracting quality teachers and administrators without experienced leadership at the helm.

Mr. Boyer, a graduate of the school district, returned to West Unity a decade ago after working in a variety of districts across Ohio, most recently as superintendent at Leipsic Local schools in Putnam County.

Mr. Boyer has 33 years of school experience and he recently applied for the job as Swanton's next superintendent.

Looking back on his career, Mr. Boyer pointed to one controversial matter while in West Unity: The fact that a previous board allowed him to retire and then be rehired.

That allows Mr. Boyer to collect retirement checks in addition to his near $90,000 annual salary. During the last year, Mr. Boyer said he's given nearly $10,000 of that salary back to the district, $5,000 of which was offered up last fall to help save extracurricular activities and other district programs from being cut after a levy failed.

Contact Kim Bates at:

kimbates@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.

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