Bennett is returning to schools for 40 months

by Ken Lahmers | EDITOR Published:

Aurora -- The Board of Education adopted a resolution Dec. 17 proclaiming its intention to rehire Russ Bennett as superintendent for 40 months from March 4, 2013 to June 30, 2016.

"The Board bases its decision on an overwhelming response from the community favoring Mr. Bennett's rehiring and also on his willingness to enter into negotiations with the district on a new contract," said Board President Gerald Kohanski.

He added a public hearing will take place Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at Leighton School to allow citizens to provide their comments and input.

Bennett's new contract is scheduled to be voted on by the Board on Feb. 25.

Based on an anticipated lower annual salary for the 40-month contract and that the district will not pick up Bennett's additional retirement payment, it is estimated the district will save $125,000 when compared to Aurora's average comparative group contract.

"It's an honor to serve this community. I've been humbled by the support and encouragement since I announced my retirement," said Bennett.

"Our community values the schools and I'm honored to be considered for 40 months. I thank our Board which works hard to ensure students' success and puts students first. I am extremely blessed to continue to be a part of this great team."

Kohanski said the Board based its decision on several key factors:

• The market for qualified superintendent candidates is competitive, with 13 mid-year vacancies existing and more openings anticipated at the end of the 2012-13 year.

• Fourteen of 82 districts in the Greater Cleveland School Superintendents Association have engaged superintendents on a retire-rehire basis.

• Bennett's $132,000 annual salary is lower than the $140,5000 average salary in the nine-district comparative group. The new contract won't contain benefits earned by other superintendents such as tax-sheltered annuities, longevity stipends, car expense reimbursements and bonus or merit pay.

• Retaining Bennett allows time for the development of promising internal candidates who will be more ready for the post in three years.

• The scenario is a new reality for school boards dealing with superintendent vacancies due to recent changes to the STRS pension system enacted by the state legislature.

• The district would avoid the loss of productivity and risk to the district's performance because of the learning curve and inexperience that would be part of hiring a new superintendent.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.