MEDINA: The president of the Medina school board has resigned as the district deals with questions about spending and the superintendent’s compensation, which included about $265,000 for his college education bills.

The local teachers union criticized the Medina board’s oversight and Superintendent Randy Stepp’s handling of the fund that supplied the payments for his education, the Medina Gazette reported. Board members have said they didn’t realize the total was so high.

Board President Charles Freeman resigned Tuesday, calling the controversy a distraction from focusing on students.

“It is my sincere hope that with new leadership, the board, union, teachers, administrators and community can again come together and place our collective focus where it belongs: on the kids,” he wrote in a letter to the board.

John Leatherman, president of the Medina City Teachers Association, told the newspaper that Freeman’s resignation “is probably the start of what needs to happen for the community and the district to heal.”

Board members talked about a plan to improve spending oversight Wednesday night.

The board had encouraged Stepp’s pursuit of a master’s in business administration from Case Western Reserve University, which cost $93,000. Stepp, who had a master’s and doctorate, also had $172,000 in college loans that were covered by the district under a 2011 modification of his contract.

Checks to cover those costs were issued by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center, using a fund that contains money left over after districts pay the center for its services.

The teachers association has criticized the board for not being aware about how the fund was used.

A spokesman for state Auditor Dave Yost told the newspaper earlier this week that Yost was informed of the circumstances and was concerned, but the office hadn’t decided whether to take action.

The conflict over the spending comes as the Medina school board is poised to approve a new contract for its roughly 400 teachers that includes higher health insurance costs for employees and no pay increases, other than those for having more time in service or more college coursework.