TWINSBURG — The Twinsburg City Schools will continue to be led by its current superintendent for the next five years.
The Twinsburg school board approved 4-1 a new contract for Kathryn Powers at a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 6. The contract is effective Aug. 1, 2020, through July 31, 2025. Under the contract extension, Powers’ salary will be $145,875 during the five years of the contract, said Board President Rob Felber.
Several residents spoke to the board before the vote, asking the members to postpone the vote on the superintendent’s contract and the district’s five-year strategic plan, which also was approved 4-1, until next year, when newly elected board member Adrienne Gordon will be seated.
Gordon also asked the board to postpone the vote so she could give her input on the contract and the strategic plan. Gordon said she was concerned about having two initiatives on the agenda that "will lock us in for five years."
"I’m not sure if it has best practices on it, regarding executive performance management," Gordon said. "This is another area where I can also provide some value. I hope that the board rethinks the decision to rush them through. It substantially reduces the collective ability that we all have to represent the people of the district. If the board feels like they have to bring the contract that expires in July, I’m asking you to pass it for a year duration as opposed to five years. The contract has been a three-year duration in the past."
Board Member Angela DeFabio, who cast the dissenting vote, agreed with the idea of postponing the vote on the superintendent’s contract and the five-year strategic plan until Gordon took office.
"I had the pleasure of working with you for two years, and you are very diligent with what you do you’re very good at what you do," DeFabio told Powers. "However, we do have a new board member coming on board, and she does deserve the opportunity that the rest of us had to work with you before deciding your contract. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give you a renewal, I’m asking that we revise it once the new member takes office, and give her a chance to work with her and form her own opinion, like we have had to form our own opinion."
Felber said that postponing the vote on the contract would be problematic because the school board has a March 1 deadline to decide on the contract renewal under state law.
"I welcome collaboration with with Mrs. Gordon," Felber said. "I welcome you to the board, but in four board meetings from January to the March 1 deadline, that’s four meetings. That’s not enough time and it’s not fair to all the evaluations that have been documented prior, and it’s just a lot to take on and to understand in such a short period of time."
Felber said that the school board hires two people for the district: the superintendent and the treasurer.
"I have been working with superintendent Kathy Powers for six years, twice as president of the board," Felber said. "This has provided me a front-row seat, witnessing the leadership standard that she has set for the students, staff and community of the Twinsburg City School District.
"After nearly a decade in her role, she continues to routinely demonstrate an extensive attention to detail and relies on data to make key decisions. Her focus on data has helped guide all five of our school buildings to receive national recognition in the areas of academics and co-curricular," he added.
He credited Powers with helping the district move through many financial challenges, "including the successful passage of multiple school levies, addressing unfunded mandates ... as well as always being focused on the social-emotional needs of our students and staff."
Board Member Mark Curtis said he "respectfully disagreed" with one resident’s remarks that the five-year contract was unprecedented.
"We just approved a five-year contract for the superintendent of the CVCC," said Curtis, who also serves on the board for the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center.
Board Member Matt Cellura agreed.
"Superintendent Powers is currently operating on her third three-year contract," Cellura said. "While a five-year contract might be a little out of the ordinary for a first-term superintendent, as Mr. Curtis said there’s numerous cases throughout the state of five-year contracts offered on second and third contracts."
The current contract lengths for other superintendents in the area:
• Tallmadge superintendent Jeff Ferguson, who over the summer was given a five-year contract;
• Woodridge superintendent Walter Davis is currently under a five-year contract;
• Nordonia Hills superintendent Joe Clark is currently under a five-year contract;
• Cuyahoga Falls superintendent Todd Nichols is currently under a three-year contract, but has had previous five-year contracts; and
• Hudson superintendent Phil Herman is currently under a four-year contract.
Powers, who was recently honored with the 2019 Martha Holden Jennings Ohio Superintendent Outstanding Performance Award, began her tenure in 2011.
"I appreciate the Twinsburg Board of Education’s continued confidence in and support of my leadership," said Powers.
"It is an honor to serve our school community. I am proud to be a part of a team of outstanding certificated and classified members who focus their efforts on ensuring that our students have all they need to reach their greatest potential. I look forward to partnering with our parents, residents, local business owners, and staff members to continue our district’s great tradition of excellent educational opportunities for our Tigers."
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC.