By Janie Southard
ST. MARYS -- The superintendent's 5.5 salary raise was rescinded at his request and by the board's unanimous vote at Wednesday's board of education meeting.
Superintendent Ken Baker, who is beginning his second year with the city school district, read from a prepared statement following the vote.
"I do not want the focus of our community to become diverted from what I believe were several significant accomplishments during the past year ... we have many challenges ahead. I want our energy, enthusiasm and efforts to be focused on those challenges," he said.
He said he is extremely disappointed with the media for "little mention of our improved test scores, our highest performance index ranking in the past four years, the movement from continuous improvement classification to effective schools for the 2004-05 school year or the fact that we just completed negotiating the first-ever master contract."
Baker's raise would have amounted to about $5,300. Instead, he will remain at $96,572. District resident Bob Valentine, who voiced strong objections at the July meeting to the 5.5 percent raises for eight district administrators, had described the board's move as "outrageous" and wondered why it was not discussed in detail in public. He asked the board to rescind the raise approval vote.
Following last night's meeting Valentine said: "It is a gracious act on (Baker's) part. I do feel he fell on the sword for the entire system, and I laud him for acting appropriately. It's unfortunate all the raises came about the way they did. It would have been much better for all to receive reasonable increases including Mr. Baker."
Board member Darren Caywood confirmed after the meeting that it was Baker who requested the board retract his increase.
Caywood is one of three board members completing their terms on the board. He is undecided about seeking another term. The other two, Grady Shaner and Joyce Finke, have stated they will definitely not run for re-election.
"I've been on 16 years. I always said when my kids were out of school I'd get off the board. They are out of school," Shaner said. Both he and Finke have served 16 years.
According to the Auglaize County Board of Elections, several people have picked up petitions, which must be turned in along with a $30 filing fee by 4 p.m. Aug. 25.
An advertising company has approached the district to place 3-by-5-foot signs inside Skip Baughman Stadium for a donation of $700. The annual display is revolving, last year it was Meijer stores and this year the advertiser is Century 21.
Baker said he sees it as a "wonderful way to partner with the community."
District Business Manager Kurt Kuffner reported $24,087 in increased income for last year's cafeteria program and a $10,380 decrease in operation expenses.
Those numbers also take into account $37,000 more in the cost of food, which is somewhat leveled off by the introduction of the breakfast program.
Kuffner said it's good news, but stressed the cafeteria program is not targeted to make a profit. Baker added the goal is to "not lose money."
In his report to the board, Baker submitted seven goals for the coming year:
´ Organize a transfer policy committee, per the union contract, and have board recommendation by Dec. 31.
´ Establish an evaluation instrument committee, per the union contract, and have board recommendation by May 1.
´ Organize elementary reorganization committee and have board recommendation by January.
´ Analyze secretarial salary schedule.
´ Complete phone changeover with training.
´ Complete copier changeover with training.
´ Conduct review of Athletic Code of Conduct.