By Jeff Gallatin
School board members Monday decided Superintendent Clint Keener’s numbers would help the district continue its run of success.
Board members unanimously approved extending Keener’s contract four additional years through July 2016 and will allow him to double dip by collecting both a state pension and an annual salary. Keener, who has 35 years of service, will retire for one day (Aug. 1) this summer, then resume his duties with the new contract Aug. 2. Board officials cited the savings to the district by allowing Keener to retire, take a pension, and then collect an annual salary. Keener has said it would be to his benefit to retire, take the pension and still work at a reduced salary. The practice of retiring, then coming back to collect a pension, is legal under state law, and one recent news report said up to one in every four school superintendents in Ohio does it.
District officials said without the retirement, Keener’s annual salary would have been $151,547. In the new agreement, it will be $108,000 for the 2012-13 school year; $114,000 for 2013-14; $115,000 in 2014-15; and $126,500 in 2015-16.
Keener said he’s pleased to be coming back to Bay for at least four more years.
“I really didn’t want be be anywhere else, but I still wanted to work,” he said. “We have a great district and community.”
Board members said it made sense to make the move, citing the district saving money and maintaining continuity. They noted the district has maintained a strong educational track record while Keener has been superintendent, and that it’s likely other district administrators will retire in the next few years.
After the vote, Board President Gayatry Jacob-Mosier said it was important for the audience and community to be aware of the cost savings to the district, and that having Keener stay on would maintain continuity.
Board member Amy Huntley said Keener’s employment would have been a key consideration even if the pension was not involved.
“If he wasn’t retiring, we would have been discussing extending his contract,” she said, noting the district’s string of
excellent rankings in several different education and extracurricular program rankings.”
Bay resident Susan Murnane, who regularly attends city council and other community meetings, praised Keener’s track record, but urged the board to not approve the double dipping.
“Double dipping is a public policy we can no longer afford in Ohio,” she said, adding that double dipping drains funds from the state retirement system on behalf of well-paid workers, who are not retired, and are continuing to work at well-paid jobs.
Keener said staying on allows him and the district to continue work in programs and plans the district already has under way.
“Continuity was a big part of the decision,” he said. “We’re going to have a large-scale capital improvements issue on the ballot in the near future. We’ve got programs getting under way, like the all-day kindergarten; we’ve got a review of educational standards going, and there are many other matters we’re working on which will affect the district for years.”