Resident asks BOE to examine fringe-benefit expenditures

I read the following into the record of the Oct. 6 CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) meeting:

I am a graduate of Heights High (1970) and have sent children to the high school. I am here to address the recent last best offer to the teachers' union this board voted to implement at its special meeting on Sept. 29.

After that meeting I e-mailed Board President Jodi Sourini with comments and a question about the 10% SERS (State Employees Retirement System) pick up for [Treasurer] Gainer’s and [Superintendent] Kirby’s contracts. She e-mailed back: "Retirement contributions are subject to current contracts and the negotiation process with other unions. Superindentent Kirby and CFO Gainer work under individual contracts and are NOT represented by a union. Their retirement contribution terms have been decided and will remain in effect through the expiration of their contracts."

Gainer receives a 10% pick up for SERS and 1.45% for his employee contributions and Medicare. Additionally, he will pay $1,500 annually toward his medical benefit. I assume by this answer he does not take the same hit on health insurance as the teachers and other staff members.

Executives in most private or public companies and not-for-profit charities set an example for their employees and participate in any belt tightening they are placing on their subordinates. Kirby and Gainer should voluntarily reopen their individual contracts and share the pain the teachers are feeling. Additionally, 11 administrators or school principals had contracts that expired at the end of June or July 2020. These contracts had a 10% SERS pick-up clause, also. Did these employees lose their 10% pick up? What is the status of these contracts? For the record, Mr. Gainer had taxable income from this district in excess of $210,000in calendar year 2019.  

The Auditor of State, in its annual management letter to this board, for the past five years has noted operational deficiencies and errors under the control of Gainer or his staff. I found these letters at, under the “documentation” tab. The BOE does not make them available on its website, but they can be requested.

I [previously submitted an opinion about excess benefit abuse to the Heights Observer,] but it never was my intention to make the teachers the target of this issue. The fringe-benefit issue is systemic and must be corrected before the taxpayers of the district entrust any more money to be spent by the Cleveland Heights-University Heights BOE.

Charles Drake

Charles Drake is a Cleveland Heights resident.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:51 PM, 11.01.2020