Debate Sparks as C-L Administrators Change Roles Following Superintendent Retirement

Clarion-Limestone-Johnson-Greenawalt[1]STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – The Clarion-Limestone School Board September 16 approved several changes to administrative positions, but some members of the board didn’t agree with the moves, which saw existing employees take on new roles.

Superintendent Retires

The changes are due in part to the retirement of C-L Superintendent J.J. Johnson, whose absence left an opening in the role.

Johnson received a framed photo from the school board of what he called “my favorite place, Clarion-Limestone.”

He thanked the board and praised the district.

“There would never be a place I would rather work at or retire from than C-L. I have enjoyed being able to accomplish so much, and I am so grateful to the Lord, to the school board, and to the people I have worked with. I am always there for you, and my heart will always be with C-L,” Johnson said.

(Photos: Above, retiring Clarion-Limestone Superintendent J.J. Johnson receives a parting gift from school board member Molly Greenawalt – a framed photo of the school. Below, Johnson shakes hands with the man who will now fill his shoes, Clarion-Limestone High School Principal Mike Stimac, as the two present a plaque proclaiming C-L as one of the best high schools in the nation.)

Clarion Limestone Johnson Stimac

Stimac New Acting Superintendent

To fill Johnson’s former role, the board approved high school principal Mike Stimac as Acting Superintendent at a pro-rated annual salary of $90,000.00.

Johnson had something to present to Stimac and to the district as a whole: A plaque honoring Clarion-Limestone High School as one of the best high schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

“It is an honor, and I’m proud we have been able to work together, and we’ve achieved much in the time we’ve been here. This is for all of you out there,” Johnson said.

Rodgers New Acting High School Principal

The decision to make Stimac superintendent created a domino effect by opening Stimac’s former role of high school principal.

The board then approved assistant principal Doug Rodgers to take on the position of high school principal at a pro-rated annual salary of $82,325.00.

The board doesn’t plan to fill Rodgers role this year, and board member Dave Schirmer offered a statement which seemed designed to make it clear the role will remain empty beyond that time period.

“I’d like it known that it is my understanding the assistant principal position is in the Act 93 contract at this point in time, and it will be removed at the end of this contract year, which is nine months. I believe the position of the board should be that the assistant principal position will be removed in any future Act 93 contract,’ Schirmer said.

The board also gave retroactive approval to Kristie Taylor as elementary principal effective July 1 at an annual salary of $77,000.00.

Debate Over Roles, Salaries

Board member Ray Theiss repeatedly voiced disapproval with the new administrative roles and voted against each move, including the individuals selected and the salaries, which were voted upon as separate agenda items.

Theiss was the lone board member to vote against each of the individuals being selected for each role.

Theiss said while he had no objection to the work done by the administrators, but objected to the moves themselves.

“I appreciate what you do,” he told each administrator, “but I think this is not the way we should do things.”

He also specifically objected to the board’s decision to make Stimac acting superintendent.

“I think the money is too high for someone who doesn’t even have his (superintendent’s certification) papers yet,” Theiss said.

Indeed, Theiss said he believes all of the approved salaries are too costly for the district.

“It doesn’t seem right to me to give such large raises for a couple of people when we are only giving some of our other workers two percent, and we need to look at some of the other people, too,” Theiss said.

Board member Jaime Mahle disagreed.

“We’re spending a little to save a lot,” Mahle said.

Schirmer said by his count the district will save $132,776.91 by not filling the vacant assistant principal role and also because these administrators each will earn less in salary than the person who previously held the role.

“They are now doing more than one job, so I think the pay should be commensurate with that,” Schirmer said.

Theiss objected, saying everyone in education is always being asked to do more with less. Board member Molly Greenawalt agreed with that sentiment but didn’t think the comparison between new and existing employees was accurate.

“A new hire versus someone who was already here is a totally different ballgame. If we would pay a new hire a certain amount, we should pay that amount to whoever fills the position. I cannot vote for raises of that much for these principals,” Greenawalt said.

All votes on administrator salaries were approved by the same 5-4 tally, with board members Theiss, Greenawalt, Mike Ferguson, and Mike Meals voting against each time.

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