It won’t be easy, and it probably won’t be cheap, but the Medina school board must find a way to move forward, rebuilding public trust shattered by revelations about unusual and overly generous payments to Superintendent Randy Stepp.
This week, the board rightly voted to remove a 5.9-mill levy from the May 7 ballot, its financial judgment called into question by an $83,000 contract signing bonus and $265,000 in reimbursements to Stepp for educational expenses, among them college loans. A Beacon Journal review of area superintendents showed none receives such reimbursements.
The board also rescinded Stepp’s new contract, a five-year agreement due to start in July, when his current contract expires. The new contract was negotiated in January. Stepp, on paid leave, has agreed to repay the signing bonus. Difficult to see how the board easily can escape on its own the new contract, even with its claim of failing to follow Ohio law on open meetings.
Stepp’s attorney raised the logical alternative — negotiating a buyout. That may be costly, the agreement calling for a base salary of $134,700 a year. What is the practical alternative for the board, its relationship with Stepp in pieces, beyond the dispute over whether the education payments were properly authorized? The board must break as cleanly as possible from the past if the district is going to repair its credibility.