Oregon school board members clashed over a decision to renew five administrator contracts 18 months before their expirations.
Ultimately, a divided board voted 3-2 last week to renew the contracts through July, 31, 2017, for Business Manager Dean Sandwisch, Jerusalem Elementary Principal Dean Ensey, Coy Elementary Principal Amy Molnar, district Treasurer Jane Fruth, and Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Zsigray.
The district projects a $12 million deficit by 2016 because of shrinking tax revenue and the impact of Toledo Edison's Bay Shore power plant closing most of its facilities.
The contract renewals did not call for any salary increases, which had been a contentious issue in the district in late 2011 after the board approved pay raises for some administrators.
Mr. Sandwisch's annual salary is $103,975, Mr. Ensey's is $108,210, Ms. Molnar's is $98,452, Ms. Fruth's is $103,343, and Mr. Zsigray's is $64,210.
Jeff Ziviski, who voted against the contracts with fellow new board member PJ Kapfhammer, said it was too soon to approve the contracts that are to expire in July, 2013.
The district's financial situation makes it more urgent for the board to have flexibility with its books, instead of being locked into paying those salaries through 2017, he said.
But Richard Gabel, the board president, argued that the renewals were needed because the five administrators have strong evaluations and a good history with the district.
"If you're not going to renew their contracts, they got a feeling, 'Am I really wanted here?' " he said.
Superintendent Michael Zalar, whose contract is through July, 2014, agreed with Mr. Gabel that the new contracts help stability, especially since the district has shuffled administrators and has downsized.
"The board wanted to get everything resolved so the district can move forward on school improvement initiatives," Mr. Zalar wrote in an email. " The board wants staff to have some sense of security so they can better perform their duties."