Columbus Schools superintendent, treasurer get raises

In spite of financial problems and possible budget cuts, two high-profile employees with Columbus City Schools will soon be bringing home bigger paychecks.

Columbus City Schools Board of Education unanimously voted Nov. 6 to approve salary increases for  Superintendent Gene T. Harris and Treasurer Michael E. Kinneer on the basis of performance evaluations.

Harris’s current annual salary is $161,132. She will receive a 3 percent bonus, totalling $4,834 in addition to a 7 percent increase, which will bring her annual salary to $172,411.

The board cited Harris’ leadership in bringing the district’s status on the State of Ohio’s report card to a level of Continuous Improvement, and her place as a role model and leader in a challenging environment.

"I’d like to say a job well done to the both of you. I think, Dr. Harris, it’s been very obvious it’s not just about your dedication; it’s about providing the best education for children. I understand you haven’t had an increase in four years, and I think that’s absolutely remarkable, and again it shows your character and the importance in educating your children," said board member Carol Perkins.

Board of Education President Terry Boyd said the board would be hard-pressed to find someone else who could do the superintendent’s job as well as she does and with the challenges she faces, with a willingness to accept the same salary.

"Whether it’s for passing of the levy or negotiation with the teachers, you felt very strongly that you wanted to lead by example, and there were times you said ‘No, I do not want to accept an increase,’ this board stands here, almost twisting your arm, making you take this increase and it was no consequence that we put in your contract a clause where we can even give you a bonus," said Boyd.

Harris thanked the board for their generosity but stressed that she does not work alone.

"This doesn’t happen without a great team, and not just our leadership team here with Dr. Bosley and Mr. Hoskins and everyone else who is part of the team, but there are teachers in this district and bus drivers and secretaries and principals who are every day working hard for our children and I would like to thank them as well for their efforts too in this work," said Harris.

Boyd expressed ardent confidence in the board’s decision to give Harris and Kinneer a raise for their hard work and felt the timing of these raises were justified.

"The board doesn’t just make decisions hastily, of course we thought whether it was appropriate to give a raise at this time and we felt strongly timing has nothing to do with it. The system has been put on a positive track, we’ve made considerable progress. There are two people that deserve a lot of credit for that," said Boyd.

Boyd went on to say there is always some kind of financial concern for the district, but echoed Perkins amazement that Harris has not received a raise in four years, particularly when everyone else in the district gets one every year. Boyd said Kinneer has also been vital to improving district’s financial position and business practices, especially since the district’s finances were not in the best of shape when he arrived in 2005.

"Instead of saying ‘Is it the right time?’ you should say ‘It’s about time,’" said Boyd.

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