Home Public slams school board for approving raises
Public slams school board for approving raises
Written by Kelly Kaczala   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 14:54

Many parents attending a school board meeting last Tuesday were critical of the board’s approval of pay hikes for 12 administrators in the Oregon City Schools District.

The board had approved raises for 12 administrators at an August 16 meeting. Superintendent Mike Zalar received the biggest raise, from $116,965 to $130,221.

Many in the packed audience pointed out that the school board had eliminated busing for Clay High School students and had closed Wynn Elementary School this year to cut costs as the result of a shrinking budget that is expected to get smaller in the coming years.

“I am here to ask the administrators to please give back those raises,” said P.J. Kapfhammer, who is running for a seat on the board. “I understand the logistics of it. I understand the numbers. I’m asking the leaders of the school to give back the raises and put it toward busing, or programming, or something that got stripped in the last couple of years. Lead this district. Turn this negative into a positive. I’m asking that they think before they take these raises.”

Paula Giovanoli, of Corduroy Road, was concerned about the elimination of busing for high school students.

“I’m questioning the board’s plans on reinstating busing. Kids wait for hours for parents to pick them up. I’m a little disappointed that raises were given to administrators before we reinstate busing for children,” said Giovanoli, to a burst of applause from the audience.

Earl John Gilliland, Jr., a candidate for the school board, criticized the board for approving the raises.

“A biblical phrase keeps coming to mind, `Forgive them, for they know not what they have done,’” said Gilliland, a former administrator with the district. “And that’s my fear for what you folks have done to our school system with these administrative raises. I’m not here to hurt any employee. I’m not here to hurt anyone. But I’m carrying a message I’ve constantly run into, especially in the last two days. I’ve had people call me. I’ve had people question me. And I think you folks owe it to our public to either do what Mr. Kapfhammer just indicated, or if you’re not going to do that, I think you have to step up and be held accountable and give answers. I think you folks probably have those answers. How could we afford any raises? We cut bussing. We have parents who can’t get kids to school. Why did the superintendent get a $13,000 raise? Explain it to us. Was it performance related? Was it a promise made when he came to the superintendent position years ago? If it was, let’s be transparent. At this point, the people in the community feel you’re not being transparent, they feel you’re being opaque?”

Mike Wegrzyn, or Heritage Lane, wanted to know how the funds became available in a district that has failed to get a levy passed in the last few years.

“Why does the district now have these funds? So we really didn’t need a levy. Or we certainly don’t need another one. Why spend this money, if we have it, right away? Why not wait a year and see if something happens and we might really need it? Why not restore busing first? This is a safety issue. We got kids walking to school on busy roads. That’s not good,” he said. “The board put raises ahead of our children’s safety. The board showed us the truth of what they believe in. I believe that’s greed, money, tax levies – not our children. It should be spent on our kids – something for them. I think [administrators] should give the raises back voluntarily or at least ask the board to revote on it. Something should be done.”

Paul Drake III said the raises “are a sign of arrogance.”

“I agree with P.J. Hopefully, you will rescind that. I think it’s appalling. Now is not the time for it. Everyone knows the economy now is terrible,” he said. “I was here when you cut the busing. You just cut it out. It was totally wrong.”

School board candidate Jeff Ziviski said the school board has broken a trust with the public by giving raises

“I’ve been on the other side of the board. It is tough to make those decisions. Over the last several years, it’s all been financial. Educational programs are being cut for our children. Now every single decision that’s made is being scrutinized,” said Ziviski. “Programs are being cut. With that is a lack of trust and transparency that comes with that. That’s why everyone is here today. There’s not a lot of trust when you’re cutting programs and giving raises. I’ve knocked on probably a thousand doors in the last couple of weeks. We have multiple meetings per month. The perception is, the board is lining its pockets. When you have [meetings] at a time of day when people can’t attend, the perception is and you’re hiding things. When you cut educational programs and give raises, the perception is, if the money is there, why aren’t the programs. This can be alleviated if we can get back to building the trust with the community. They just need a little bit more trust and transparency coming from the other side.”

Need for levy
School Board President Eric Heintschel said the board understands the public’s sentiment.

“This has been a process, a long process,” he said. “I’ve been on the board for almost four years. And we’ve been cutting for almost four years. Step one of the process, when this board stepped in here, was to get our financial house in order and for the last three years, we’ve done that. Everyone shares the burden - teachers, faculty, administration. God knows. our kids and people in the community – we’ve all shared in the burden of these cuts over the last three years. We got the school district’s financial situation in line. If you look at our five year forecast, we’re good through 2014, so we’ve gotten our financial house in order.”

The next step was to get the teachers’ contract renewed, said Heintschel. The teachers signed a three year contract, he added, which included a “zero percent raise.” Still, the teachers will receive “step” increases in each year, which raises their salaries, he said.

“Those steps will cost the school district $400,000 over the next three years,” said Heintschel.

Next, the school board addressed raises for administrators, he added.

“The administrative cost increase of the district is $43,000 for the first year, and $14,000 for each of the next two years,” he said.

“The next step now is to start looking at programs and things in the school district that we need to start bringing back. Now that we have the financial house in order, taking care of the most important thing in this district is the education of our kids. I understand safety is also important. It’s something we’ll look at. But the education of our kids is the most important thing. And we did that by renewing the teachers’ contract. Then we took care of the leaders of the school district. Now that we’ve gone through this, we look forward to start working together with the community. We do need to get positive energy back into this community. We got the financial house in order. Now we’re going to start taking a look at what we need to do next. There’s going to be things like busing, programming. There’s going to be a need for a levy in the next couple of years. We can’t control what happens in the state with the financial situation in the district. But we need to continuously improve what we’re doing here in Oregon schools.”

Heintschel said the administrators could voluntarily give back their raises, but it would have to be their decision.

Comments (18)Add Comment
Administration raises cannot be justified!!!
posted by Peggy Peters, October 24, 2011
It is sad our administration believes THEY deserve these raises because THEY have taken on more of a work load!! So have our teachers & parents! Where are the raises for the teachers, for bigger class sizes do to the cuts made & do parents deserve payment for the gas & time off of work to get their kids back & forth to school on time? We have ALL made sacrifices & had a bigger work load! What makes them think THEY are above everyone else in the community? They need to give back the raises in order to gain trust back! They will NEVER pass a levy with their attitude that they deserve to get raises, when High School bussing is no longer, a school was closed, programs cut, teachers let go & teachers on a 3 year pay freeze! Education & safety of students should ALWAYS come before their pockets! Most of them make over 100 grand a year! I am a life long Oregon resident & attended Oregon schools myself & I am disappointed in what is going on & the underhanded way they have done this! Shame on them! Oh & I am ALL for sports, but why can we afford bussing to sporting advents but NOT to school?? Education first people!!!!
I think the board knows what they are doing, personally
posted by Mike Z, October 24, 2011
Don't you think you are overreacting, Peggy? The budget cuts have put a big burden on this community, however education will continue. Your statements make me think the world is coming to an end. Just because the great administration needs extra funding doesn't mean it isn't deserved.

That money I'M SURE will represent itself in the fact that extra hours of hard work are going into the recipient's schedules. The pressure these individuals are under is far greater than you may believe. I hope you reconsider and maybe in the future can contact the administration personally with such grievances. Thanks!
posted by jefferysanders, October 24, 2011
Mike, I don't think she is over-reacting in the slightest. You increased your salary 13k$ while failing to provide busing for HS students, that is atrocious. I have personally filed a complaint to the IRS stating my concerns about the obvious fiscal abuse; they're investigating I have been told. I encourage anyone within your district to withdraw and home-school your children...that will further decrease state-funds, while enhancing the proof of your administration's greed. Mike what are your credentials, what are you doing exactly that you feel you deserve 130k a year; what needs of yours are indicative of a actual worth for such a extravagant pay scheme? You stated something about a apocalypse, are the funds being misappropriated to stock your families (or your whole board for that matter) a fallout shelter? Do you know something we don't? Your logic is obviously flawed, and seems based of schizophrenic assumptions. If you are giving your board raises while diminishing your "school programs" you should have less of a job administrating! Are your sure your name is not Mike Dumass?
-Jeffery Sanders
Well said Jeffrey!
posted by Peggy Peters, October 24, 2011
Hmmm is this Dr. Mike Zalar posting as Mike Z.? Nobody cares what you have to say because you are the one most benefitting from these raises! And going to the administration with our concerns is a joke! We ALL know your going to do what you want! The Oregon board has never been good at listening to the parents & taxpayers in the community! And I didn't like your flippant attitude towards my post that the majority in the community also feel! It seems the only ones that agree with these raises are you, the current board, & the rest of the administration that received outrageous raises! You are basically telling me that your added work load is more important than the safety & education of our students & compensation of our GREAT teachers!! Yeah I guess the world is ending! Why don't you try & find the position you currently hold somewhere else! We don't want you here!
WOW so many hits on this subject! please people speak up & be heard!
posted by Peggy Peters, October 25, 2011
I am surprised at the enormous amount of hits on this subject! I am also surprised more parents are not commenting, I hear complaints about the administration raises everyday! Come on people speak up, this is how they get away with what they are doing! Thanks Jeffrey for what you are doing by getting the IRS involved! I truely believe they are mishandling funds & it needs to be investigated! I have lost ALL trust in our school board & the administration!! I am sure someone is waiting in the wings to be superintendent for less than 130,000.00 with the lack of jobs in Ohio & especially schools I don't think he could have gone anywhere else & that was the reason that they gave him the 13,000.00 raise! We are also paying 100% of his continuing education! When your salary is over 100 grand, I think you can afford your own education! Time to hire new leaders & start over!! P.J. Kapfhammer is a GREAT start!!
Peggy Peters needs to relax
posted by Thomas Paine, October 25, 2011
Why does no one realize that the lack of funds stems from Senate Bill 7 being passed a few months back (you know...when that levy things was being passed around)

I encourage anyone who is uneducated enough to tell the IRS that a public school is misappropriating funds to read up on this and see if the millions of dollars that are "missing" could potentially be the same missing dollars that were lost when the state cut the funding provided by big corporations like BP etc. This pay readjustment puts Dr Zalar, a good administrator, firmly in the bottom half of all administrators in NW Ohio. It is also common policy for an educational facility to provide for and support an educators continuing education! To be upset about that is laughable. Oregon Schools, as well as every other public school in America, pays for their employees (yes, even "the man") to embody the spirit of a lifelong learner. Everyone is upset because someone is making a salary that is bigger than theirs. If you are upset about it, then go back to school yourself and earn a wage that you think you deserve. As a resident of Oregon, I refuse to chide someone for being successful, especially when the person at fault is someone who 4 years ago decided not to be greedy and only took a $1 pay increase after receiving a PhD and a promotion from Principal of one building to Superintendent of a district. Really people? The buses were cut because the citizens of Oregon voted to not have it anymore. Get over it. Where was this passion when the levy needed passed?
posted by Noda, October 25, 2011
First of all, the teachers received a larger pay increase than the administrators did or ever have. Call it steps or negotiated contract, the bottom line is their salary increase far exceeds the dollars the administrator received. And if they are such hard working teachers, why has the district's grade card fallen? This was an excellent district for years but has lost that rating - directly due to classroom success.

Jeff, homeschool your kids?? Really that's your solution? Absurd. You must want even more teachers to lose their jobs. Everyone is working harder and as Thomas states, bussing was cut because the community (and the teacher union) refused to support the necessary cuts to keep it. Why don't we see the union offering to freeze or rescind their step increases?? Why aren't you asking for that AS WELL as admin rescinding their paltry increases? If you think $40,000 or even $13,000 would bring back bussing you really know nothing. That might have bought a few bus tires, but the entire district needed to FREEZE EVERYTHING to keep bussing and the union adamantly refused to do that while still receiving better benefits than most community residents get from their employers.

And as a final remark - "whispering" I don't think that Mike Z is really Dr. Zalar.... (although that's a very tricky idea to make that your username) As a long-time resident of Oregon, I'm sickened by the response to this. All I ever hear is "we are not East Toledo", but this seems to be the epitome of whatever East Toledo is if it means bullies, whiners and wanting something for nothing.

Public education is not free

Lets' cut the juvenile name-calling and make sure all the facts are on the table. Then as a community, you get to vote on what you want although to my knowledge there is no levy on the ballot or has been since the public soundly responded in a way that said "we don't care about the schools".
really people have the guts to put Your real names!
posted by Peggy Peters, October 25, 2011
If you can't put your REAL names don't post! Thomas Paine was a famous politician! And what the heck is Noda? And blaming our teachers for this is ludicrous! Yes I am aware about the bill that that was passed & I am aware of bill 66, that passed years ago! It still doesn't make these extreme raises right! A 13,000.00 raise is uncalled-for when our school funding is in trouble! That 43,000.00 that was paid out may not have paid for bussing, but could have been put aside & used for education! And I for one have NEVER voted down a levy, so it's not my fault it didn't pass! Oh & please do not comment on this unless you are willing to put your REAL name on it! Your probably the same person that sent a NASTY letter to Jennifer Toth Pastor & didn't have the guts to sign it!!
Common Sense
posted by Thomas Paine, October 25, 2011
Seeing as how the very first thing you learn about the internet is to never post any real information, I think it is you who should probably change your information!

If you understand why the schools have limited funding, then surely you must know that if the school doesn't spend their money, then the state will give them less funding later! Again, Dr Zalar was a fine upstanding administrator when he came on, taking a $1 raise after accepting a promotion and receiving a PhD. Find me one PhD qualified professional who would agree to take a $1 pay increase, I dare you! Dr Zalar took this because the budget was in trouble then. Now the money is available to pay Dr Zalar what he would have been paid 4 years ago! By that pay scale, we'd be talking about a Superintendent who would be making about $150,000 now. But he isn't. The community of Oregon, including you Ms Peters, is focusing on a $43,000 amount of money over 3 years TOTAL out of a $40,000,000 school budget. This amounts to less than 1% of the school's budget. Get over it and be happy that you have an administrator that isn't nearly half as greedy as everyone is making him out to be.

This Occupy Wall Street mentality of being upset with anyone who makes more money than you is turning Oregon into a community of pathetic whiners. I applaud your support of the levy, but question your inability to see past the Press's yellow journalism. You are clearly biased as you call myself and noda out for having a fake name, yet automatically believe that the "Mike Z" a few posts ahead is Dr Zalar. If you had an ounce of intelligence in you you would never think that a professional educator would lower themselves to stirring a pot online.

And Thomas Paine was an author, inventor, and Founding Father. A far cry from a politician who will say anything to get elected. Like so many of the people running for school board....
When posting letters to the press YOU SHOULD HAVE GUTS TO PUT REAL NAME!
posted by Peggy Peters, October 26, 2011
First of all "Thomas Paine" I unlike you have the guts to put my name on something I firmly believe in! The only people that wouldn't put their true name are the people that are afraid for people to know who they truely are! If you write a letter to the editor, you HAVE to put your name b/c they don't except anonymous letters! Keep hiding behind your pen name! And I am NOT jealous that the administration makes more than me b/c money doesn't buy happiness! ALL I am saying is now was NOT the time for it when so much has been taken away from the kids! Thats all I'm going to say on this subject b/c clearly you don't get it! The parents at the packed board meeting last week DO get it! You probably don't even have a child in the Oregon school system!
How to demand a better service and better education for your children!!!
posted by Give me Liberty, October 26, 2011
School and education is a wonderful thing. And yet people still hold on to a barbaric system like we have here. You may vote on what you want, but voting is nothing more than suggestion box for surfs. If you like people voting themselves raises and many other disrespectful activities, then look at the system that creates it. You have no choice, but either pay, or get either thrown in a cage or have your house auctioned off. This isn't freedom, and then you get surprised when they vote pay raises for themselves? Get real, would you? Even if you home school, or private school, you are still going to pay, so you wind up paying for education twice, and then to whine at the job these schools do or how they pay themselves? Remember, real competition brings prices down and quality of service up. Isn't that what you truly want? Better service and better education? It's sad people will grasp at a system that is so very corrupt violating the simple principals of 'though shall not steal'. Freedom is the right to say no. Can you?

posted by Adam_M, October 26, 2011
Bussing costs 500,000 a year for high school I believe. And it would take more cuts to get that money.
Nowadays we need to cut in order to receive. But nobody likes the cuts. However I think they should
Put a stop to the charging for parking passes. Now its only 15 bucks per kid,
But that could be their only way to get to school and our administrators want to approve of the school
making money of of that! I don't get it. Now Doc Zalar deserves some positive light shed on him, he has a doctorate which 99.9% of the population will never receive. He is also the Chairman of Commodore Perry District if the Boy Scouts of America. He has very intelligent children whom he has raised, one of which is headed to the Air Force Academy. He may not make decisions currently that some disagree with including me, but the only way to afford bussin is to make more cuts or bump up prices for other stuff. But if your not willing to agree with that process or you don't want to pass a levy then shut up! Either you vote for a levy or this process will never end.
posted by Give me Liberty, October 26, 2011
Just because you have a process for procuring money, doesn't make it moral. Why don't you go from person to person and threaten them with a cage or auctioning off their house to pay for these schools/services? A bank robber can develop a process for robbing a bank. Maybe he has a bunch of guys and they may vote to rob a bank, but that doesn’t make it moral. How many people would it take to vote to rob a bank, before it becomes moral? How many people does it take to vote yourself a pay raise before it becomes moral? Only when people become immoral, then they could justify voting to rob a bank or a 'taxpayer'. If Doc, Zelar is a person of high moral caliber, then the only moral thing he should do is to quit his job and go get a job at a private school that doesn't have to resort to threats against people and there homes to fund his teaching career. The love of money, is the root of all evil. Would you sacrifice your paycheck to do the moral thing?
posted by Adam_M, October 26, 2011
Just because you don't have a kid in Oregon Schools doesn't mean you don't need to support a levy. Citizens of Oregon should care enough about Oregon students to support a levy. Or atleast that's what the ideal citizen should do. I would gladly pay whatever dollar amount per resident it would charge if a levy passed. Oregon is a majority middle class town, so generally speaking..... We can afford it, if you can't, then manage your money correctly so you can afford it. To many people claim they have no money but yet they ca afford to buy packs of cigarettes everyday and lotto tickets and beer. That happens quite a bit! A citizen who cares should do what it takes to contribute towards the effort for proper schooling. Have a good day!
@Give Me Liberty
posted by Thomas Paine, October 26, 2011
Dr Zalar is not on the board. He does not control his raise, no matter how badly Oregon wants it to be so please don't allude to that.

Nobody is stealing money from anywhere. If you are half as Libertarian that you presume to be, then move to another country. I dare you to find one with a lower tax structure! Paying taxes to support a community is the price you pay when you sign up, and failing levies that support the community is what leads to a dying community and lower housing prices. Thus procuring a poor investment in the long run. In's a stupid idea, in every sense of the word.

Oregon Schools is in the position to offer an educator a pay increase to keep salaries competitive for the region. And yes, administrators are educators to! They did this after the Union refused to take an additional step freeze. Whether the public wants to believe that doesn't effect that it is the truth. After that decision was made, a levy came out that the community failed. Because of that things were cut. Now there is enough money left over to offer these increases to all. The school can afford it, settle down.

And Ms Peters. This has taken nothing away from the kids other than kept a good Superintendent here. Pray that you never have to deal with a poor one because that is a nightmare this community would not be able to handle it. The parents and community members clearly lack the understanding of school funding, therefore they do NOT get it. If they did get it, they wouldn't be upset. They are peons to what the Press, a terribly biased newspaper, wishes to say.

And internet privacy is a crucial part of the internet community. You should really consider not using your real information. It has nothing to do with not being proud enough about what you say, it has everything to do with safety and common sense. Google yourself, you'll be surprised what someone can learn
posted by Adam_M, October 26, 2011
Exactly right sir, also Doc Zalar said he wanted to find a cut that would save money but at the same time, have as minimal of an impact to the physical classroom environment as possible. Which I agree with that concept. Smart thinking actually. That shows he cares about these kids. Yes, the Dental Technologies Program was cut, but other than that no extreme cuts were made physically inside the school. I respect Doc Zalar for he is a fellow Eagle Scout and had the confidence and determination in himself to pursue further education and achieve a doctorate. He has a job that is tough as is, so everyones uneducated nagging about politics and how he is acting uneducated and uncaring don't make his job any easier. So be quiet and do your homework before you speak. I am proud of the education I received in Oregon City Schools, and so should every other student or alumni. For the teachers have done nothing wrong!
posted by Lt. John Norway, October 26, 2011
It's interesting you say that nobody is stealing money. Can you site the factual difference between taxation and theft. No, I don't wish to hear a legal OPINION that one is legal and the other is not. Please educate us peons, that you have no respect for, and should have our money taken by threat to support these pay raises.

As 'Give me liberty' asked, how many people have to vote before robbing a bank becomes moral? If voting is moral, why not have everybody that shows up complaining, why not let them vote to take the school boards vehicles to drive their kids to school? What is wrong with taking from one group of people to give to another? After all, doesn't the end justify the means?

Maybe before you go telling somebody, that 'if they don't like it they should leave', you should ask yourself why you need somebody that wants 'liberty' to leave this country. Maybe you are the source of the problem and not somebody questioning authoriti(sic).

Are you a man that enjoys the thought of taking other peoples money and you know how to spend it better than they do?

And to the person that wrote this..
"Citizens of Oregon should care enough about Oregon students to support a levy."

Can you prove, citing just facts, and NO opinions, that there is a reciprocal obligation proving anybody is a “citizen of Oregon”? If you can't, why would you want to subject a new group of kids to a “public” education that has failed you, yourself, in this very basic idea? Maybe you don't understand that citizenship is a reciprocal obligation. Can you spell out the terms?
posted by Adam_M, October 26, 2011
I never said there was an obligation, I said they "should" support a levy, "should" is not forceful or obligatory in any way. Now Oregon City Schools hasn't failed me at all. I am currently attending college and am working towards a masters degree and later on enlist in the United States Marine Corps. They have not failed me one bit Oregon teachers are absolutely wonderful abd it's a shame you think less of them The act of a school system failing you isn't existent. You failed yourself. You receive the reward according to what you put forth. Students fail themselves. Now how bout instead of complaining about issues that don't have a huge impact on your daily life,how about you try to be the best parent, child, neighbor, friend you can be. Living life this way is so much more rewarding than staging a political argument that isn't going to get you anywhere in life or make you look like a better person.

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