Archbold, OH

Downey Balks At School Administrator Pay Raises

John Downey, an Archbold school board member, cast a “no” vote on pay hikes for school administrators during the Monday, May 16 board meeting.

Downey was the lone dissenting vote, so the pay raises passed, 4-1.

Most administrators received pay raises similar to that given to the teachers at a special Wednesday, April 6 meeting.

Teachers and professional staff were granted base pay hikes of 2% in the next two fiscal years, and 1.75% in the third.

A school fiscal year is from Aug. 1 to July 31 of the next calendar year.

Three administrators received different packages.

Dorothy Lambert, elementary principal, was granted a 2.5% raise effective Aug. 1; another 2.5% increase effective Aug. 1, 2017, and a third 2.5% pay hike effective Aug. 1, 2018.

Michelle Bagrowski, curriculum director, and Christine Ziegler, treasurer, received 3% raises in each of the next three years.

Base And Step

Teachers are paid based on two factors: base pay and step increases. Base pay is effectively the starting point for teacher salaries.

As teachers get additional years of experience, and/or add advanced degrees, they move up on the salary schedule.

Each increase on the schedule is referred to as a step.

While there may be no increase in base pay, a teacher may receive a salary increase for moving up one step for a year of experience (step increases).

Administrators, however, do not receive step increases for each year of experience. The board sets their pay.

Increases are expressed as a percentage over current salary.

Rex said in establishing the pay increases for administrators, he looked at pay levels for administrators in other districts with similar enrollment and contract days worked.

Looking at salaries for Lambert and Bagrowski, Rex said they earn “less than people who either have less experience, or have fewer students. So I felt those two people needed a bigger percentage to play catch-up.”

He said he discussed the increases with the board and the administrators.


Downey said his no vote is “no reflection on anyone’s job performance, nor should it be construed as such.”

He said during the last three years, teachers and administrators got the same percentages in terms of salary increases. But the school board agreed to pay all costs for administrators’ retirement, while teachers are being required to fund a portion of their retirement costs from their own paychecks.

Downey explained that school boards pay 14% of each employee’s salary to their retirement programs.

Employees were required to pay 10% of their salary to the retirement system, but recent changes in the rules of the State Teachers Retirement System require them to pay an additional 1% per year for four years.

This year, Downey said each teacher pays 11% toward retirement.

As each additional year passes, another 1% will be added, until they are paying 14%.

Downey said during the 1990s, the school board agreed to fund 2% of the teacher’s share of his or her retirement.

“I was told by an administrator that should always be calculated (as part of a teacher’s salary),” he said.

Otherwise, the administrator told him, “The faculty will forget that that was part of their compensation.

“I promised I would never forget that. And I kept that promise as a member of AEA and as a member of the board of education.”

The Archbold Education Association represents teachers in contract negotiations with the school board. Downey, as a former teacher, was a member and a past AEA president.

“I’ve been consistent that that should always be calculated in the base salary of our teachers when comparing it to other school teachers,” he said.

But “the administrators don’t have to pay anything to their retirement system. That’s all paid for by the board,” Downey said.

In addition, administrators get “a pick-up on the pick-up” portion.

That means in addition to the 14% retirement contribution, the board pays an additional 14% on the 14%.

In simple terms, for an administrator making$100,000, the board pays its 14% share of the person’s retirement– in this case, $14,000.

“A pick-up on the pick-up,” means the board pays an extra 14% of the $14,000, or an additional $1,960 toward the administrator’s retirement, Downey said.

The additional money is used to calculate administrators’ average salaries, which is how their retirement pay is calculated.

“So it’s an additional cost to the board that the administrators reap when they retire,” he said.


As part of the new teacher contracts, a new, higher salary step was added to the salary schedule.

Under the old schedule, there were no step increases after 25 years of service.

At the time of the contract ratification, Rex said because teachers are working longer, an additional salary step was added at year 33.

Downey said, “In the matter of Chris Ziegler, I’m not voting against that, because the teachers also got that; they added an extra step.

“Basically, she is getting into the latter years of her work life, and it matches what the teachers got by adding the 32nd step.”–David Pugh

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