By Janie Southard
Is the Celina school administrative staff getting extra money for specific accomplishments? Is a little something extra for the pocketbook hidden in Celina administrators' contracts? Did the superintendent make big bucks for getting levies passed?
No, no and no.
Was there ever an administrative performance incentive program?
Yes, until this year there was, but no more.
These are questions Celina Superintendent Fred Wiswell has answered repeatedly. Again this week, someone anonymously dropped off at the newspaper a listing of administrative incentives, which no longer exist, Wiswell says. "The (former) incentive program was approved by the board in open meeting and there was never anything secret about it. It was payment for work outside daily responsibilities and actually saved the district the salary and benefits we would have paid to an assistant superintendent," Wiswell told The Daily Standard in his office Wednesday, adding the public would have to "look long and hard for another district our size and demographic that doesn't have an assistant superintendent."
Against Wiswell's objections, the district administrators declared they would not accept additional money this school year for additional responsibility outside their contract province.
What are some of these additional responsibilities?
According to Wiswell they relate to compliance issues and state/federal grants. More specifically they include: kindergarten screening coordination, No Child Left Behind monitoring, district safe and drug-free schools coordination, student record reviews, district testing, various services to Head Start and many more.
Wiswell used as an example the $3,000 East Elementary Assistant Principal Diane Kramer received last year for work outside her daily responsibilities. This year she does not receive that additional money.
"Diane oversees our federal grants program, which generates about $1 million per year. She does all the reporting, all the screening and all the updating of applications. None of this lies within her job description as an assistant principal," Wiswell said.
He compared the former incentive program to one with which the public is more familiar, supplemental contracts.
This is where teachers are offered the opportunity to make additional money by accepting district positions of coaches, club and activity advisers and other jobs outside their classrooms. The board of education approves pay for this extra work.
So, yes, last year Ann Esselstein, middle school principal, received $3,000 performance incentive for the 21st Century After School Program and co-directing the middle school Saturday School, and Sue Aukerman, West elementary principal, received $3,000 for coordinating the district's kindergarten screening, and 15 other administrators earned incentives from $500 to a maximum of $3,000 for extra services performed. But not this year.
"I believe our administrators are deserving of this opportunity to earn additional money for work outside their daily responsibilities. I think it is sad they gave up the opportunity this year because everyone was making such a big deal of it," said Wiswell, a former teacher who came up through the ranks.
The administrative incentive program began with former Superintendent Hank Smith, who operated the program in a random fashion. When Wiswell took over the superintendent's chair four years ago, he refined and formalized the program.
"They submit an application and fully describe what their projects entail. The maximum incentive is $3,000. I've utilized the program to reduce central office administration and save the district valuable dollars," he said, adding he alone was the judge of the merit and quality of the project submitted.
Wiswell has made an agreement with the Celina Education Association for next year that the incentive program will be available to anyone who wants to step forward to take on a project. Additional compensation will be worked out.
But, for this year, administrators are still performing tasks outside their day jobs for no additional remuneration.