Positive Evaluations Prompt Board Action on Superintendent, Treasurer Contracts

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The Westerville City School District Board of Education gave high marks to the performance and professionalism of Superintendent Dr. John Kellogg and Treasurer Bart Griffith, according to evaluation summaries shared by Board of Education President Dr. Nancy Nestor-Baker during the Board’s regular meeting on August 11, 2014. Kellogg and Griffith are the only district employees who directly report to and are evaluated by the Board of Education.

 “Your first year in Westerville Schools seems to have flown by,” Nestor-Baker said in a written summary of Kellogg’s evaluation. “However, even though time moved quickly, much was accomplished during this important first year of your superintendency.”

Nestor-Baker cited several of Kellogg’s achievements during his initial year with the district, including:

  • Completion of a community-driven Strategic Plan which now guides instructional and operational decisions;
  • Creation and implementation of a Learning and Teaching Roadmap that addresses technology gaps in the district, is achievable within district financial projections and grant awards, and corresponds to the academic needs of 21st century learners;
  • Acquisition and participation in three Straight A Grants from the State of Ohio, which brings millions of dollars of revenue to the district and jumpstarts curricular and technological initiatives that otherwise would have been out of reach;
  • Completion of contractual agreements and guidelines for various employee groups while maintaining a stable financial picture for the district; and
  • Restoration of the elementary Magnet Program in a manner that met a very tight timeframe, balanced resources, and involved a representative group of stakeholders throughout the process.

According to Nestor-Baker, the successful restoration of the Magnet Program was critical because it reduced overcrowding concerns at the elementary level and removed a need to redistrict elementary schools. “The program’s restoration also resulted in the continued use of two important schools in the center of Westerville, maintained an important choice opportunity for families, and resulted in a more diverse population of applicants than ever before,” she explained.

The Board also praised Kellogg for the manner in which he realigned the district’s administrative team to the Strategic Plan, which resulted in more support to buildings and classrooms, as well as improved communication between the Executive Team and Board of Education.  “The reorganization allowed for positions that will increase the focus on career-technical education, achievement of minority students, and socio-emotional needs of students,” Nestor-Baker stated.

According to the summary, Kellogg’s vision for the district has a clear focus on instruction, which is accompanied by leadership abilities that focus on getting the job done. Board members noted that they anticipate the forward progress of this past year will continue, with emphasis on:

  • Implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of  the Strategic Plan and the Learning and Teaching Roadmap, with especial focus on curriculum, instruction, and student achievement;
  • Communication with staff, community, board, and state policymakers;
  • Identification of  review and development strategies for  district policies and procedures; and
  • Operation within the financial assumptions for the Five Year Forecast.

Based upon this evaluation, the Board amended Kellogg’s current contract to include a 3 percent salary increase, bringing his base salary to $190,550. In recognition of the significant strides the district made last year, Kellogg will receive a one-time payment of $3,700. This compensation will not be added to his base salary and the length of his contract, which expires July 31, 2016, was not changed. The Board also increased to 50 the number of unused vacation days the superintendent may accumulate at any given time and added language authorizing compensation for unused sick leave upon retirement. According to Nestor-Baker, Kellogg’s total compensation ranks seventh out of the 16 public school districts in Franklin County.

Griffith’s evaluation summary also includes numerous examples of recent achievements and highlights the value he brings to the district’s financial operations.

“As Treasurer of the school district it is your responsibility to effectively and lawfully manage the fiscal operations of our $200 million school system,” Nestor-Baker wrote. “Success in meeting this vital responsibility requires strategic and managerial competencies of the highest level. During the past two years, you demonstrated these high levels of professional achievement successfully and consistently.”

Nestor-Baked cited several fiscal achievements spearheaded by Griffith, including:

  • Transitioning the district’s medical and dental insurance programs to a "self-insured" model and working with Medical Mutual on a premium share agreement as part of the transition, saving the district nearly $4 million;
  • Developing a Five Year Forecast that aligns with district educational and operational needs, while maintaining a cash balance of $30 million with a rainy day reserve of $13 million;
  • Playing a pivotal role in the completion of contractual agreements and guidelines for various employee groups while maintaining a stable financial picture for the district;
  • Instituting several processes and procedures that saved or will save the district approximately  $160,000 annually; and
  • Refinancing district bonds, saving taxpayers over $900,000.

Board members noted that Griffith and his office received the prestigious Ohio Auditor Of State Award With Distinction, for which approximately 5 percent of Ohio public entities qualify; achieved two audits with no findings, which is very difficult to accomplish in a complex education organization such as Westerville City Schools; and clearly communicated financial information with district residents and other constituents.

Griffith was described in his evaluation summary as an educator who educates the board and the public as often and for as long as it takes. “We are grateful for your professionalism in this regard and for your willingness to go the second mile when receiving requests," Nestor-Baker wrote. Board members also recognized Griffith’s “significant strategic leadership” and “strong, proven reputation of integrity.” 

“As we move forward, the Board intends to support your efforts, working together as a strong team,” Nestor-Baker wrote.

The Board identified several tasks for Griffith to undertake in the immediate future, including:

  • Monitoring and completing measures associated with the Affordable Health Care Act; and
  • Reviewing and analyzing pertinent financial matters, including the district's Request for Proposal (RFP) process, the Win-Win Agreement, Tax Increment Financing options, the Community Reinvestment Act, and Tax Abatements.

Based upon this evaluation, the Board amended Griffith’s current contract, which expires July 31, 2018, to include a 3 percent salary increase. This brings the treasurer’s base salary to $161,008, which also reflects the elimination of a monthly $100 electronic communication allowance. The Board also increased to 75 the number of unused vacation days the treasurer may accumulate at any given time and modified the calculation of compensation for unused sick leave upon retirement. Griffith’s total compensation ranks ninth out of the 16 public school districts in Franklin County.

“Your performance and your accomplishments are exemplary,” Nestor-Baker wrote. “You are a remarkable value to the district and the taxpayers, returning your salary many times over in financial benefit to the community. Put simply, you are, as one board member said, ‘a remarkable Return on Investment.’”