A divided Rossford school board renewed the district treasurer’s contract for three years last week, even though his current agreement does not expire until July 31.
The new contract re-employs James Rossler from Aug. 1, 2014, through July 31, 2017, at his current salary — $123,999.08 per year — and increases the portion he pays for medical insurance to 15 percent from 10 percent.
The agreement gives him 30 vacation days each year and stipulates that the district will pay his 10 percent contribution to the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, or SERS, which it mistakenly calls “the State Employees Retirement System,” along with the employer’s share, and specifies that the pension pickup is to be included in the treasurer’s compensation for the purpose of calculating retirement benefits.
The contract provides for $200,000 worth of life insurance coverage and reimburses work-related mileage and cell phone expenses at $350 and $100 per month, respectively, and has the district pay his 1.45 percent Medicare contribution. The treasurer will accrue 1.69 sick days per month, up to a maximum of 389 days, and can cash out a third of unused sick days upon retirement.
Board president Dawn Burks pushed for the early contract renewal, saying it was important for continuity as the board decided which direction to take next year and acquires a new member, Jackie Huffman, in January. Mrs. Huffman will replace incumbent Doug Miller, an appointee, who was not elected on Nov. 5.
Ms. Burks believed it was important for Mr. Miller to be involved in the contract renewal since he had worked with Mr. Rossler. She was supported by Mr. Miller and Ken Sutter.
Opposed to the early contract renewal were board members Jackie Brown and Beverly Koch. They had no criticism of Mr. Rossler or his performance, but said the action was unnecessary and departed from past practice.
Ms. Koch said the contract action should be considered after Mrs. Huffman was seated and the district had received the results of the Ohio auditor’s performance audit of the school system’s operations. The audit report initially was to be released over the summer but has been delayed until January. “I don’t see a good reason [for the contract renewal]. It’s 10 months, 11 months early,” Ms. Koch said.
Ms. Brown noted that the contract had been written earlier by the previous school board president rather than the district’s attorney and contained errors. She objected to the pension pickup language and the professional liability/indemnification provision, which she said she believed would require the district to reimburse legal fees and preclude a lawsuit if any illegality in office occurred. “Other than freezing his pay, as other administrators have done, we are still giving him extra perks,” she said.
Mr. Sutter, however, said Mr. Rossler “has been with us for 20 years. He’s done a fantastic job . . . I think his integrity speaks for itself.”
The district’s plan for updating its aged facilities hinged on a bond levy request that voters turned down Nov. 5. The school system also has been covering its operating deficits with reserves that are running out. The board is considering its next moves, which may include asking Rossford voters again to approve a facilities levy and presenting them with a request for additional operating funds.