Fort Frye to use retire/rehire option

BEVERLY – The Fort Frye Local school district is poised to join other area schools in using the retire/rehire option to bring back an experienced educator and coach.

The board of education expects to vote at its July meeting on rehiring retiring Fort Frye High School physical education teacher and girls basketball coach Dan Liedtke.

“He’s a wonderful asset (as) a teacher and a coach,” board President Johnna Zalmanek said. “We don’t want to lose him.”

As required by state law, a public hearing on the board’s intent to rehire Liedtke after his retirement was scheduled for Thursday’s meeting at Beverly-Center Elementary School. No one spoke on the issue, and Liedtke did not attend the meeting.

Hiring retired employees is sometimes referred to as “double dipping” because the individual can collect his or her pension while continuing to work, even if returning to the same job. Critics say it amounts to a person being paid twice by the state, while supporters say the practice allows schools and other public entities to keep experienced personnel while saving money on their salaries.

Fort Frye Superintendent Tom Gibbs said that to his knowledge, Liedtke would be the first Fort Frye employee to go the retire/rehire route, although the district has previously employed an interim superintendent and treasurer who had retired from other districts. The district’s labor agreement with teachers mandates that a returning retiree go to the bottom of the salary scale on a one-year contract that can be renewed.

“You get the same great teacher back for almost $30,000 less per year,” Gibbs said. “It benefits the district. It benefits the employee.”

“It doesn’t cost the taxpayers any additional money,” he said, since an employee pays into the pension while working prior to retirement.

Liedtke will continue to teach and coach the high school girls basketball team, which he led to the Division III state semi-finals this year. He coached the boys basketball team for 27 years, including three while he also helmed the girls squad.

In other business:

  • The board approved the first reading of a policy allowing high school students to bring to school and use their own laptops and tablet devices with a classroom teacher’s approval.

Students can use the devices to access the school’s wireless Internet, which has filters on it to prevent inappropriate material from being accessed.

The high school is implementing a social studies curriculum next year with the texts and supplemental materials accessible electronically. While the district has purchased iPads for classroom use, other devices can also access the material.

Gibbs noted some classroom teachers allow students to utilize their electronic devices in an educational manner, such as using a Twitter-like app that allows them to quickly answer questions with their smart phones.

“Teachers are already starting to implement (because) students have these devices,” he said.

While wireless Internet capabilities will be installed at the district’s elementary schools next year, the policy is only in place at the high school, to allow the district to work out any bugs, Gibbs said.

  • The board went into closed, executive session, with no action expected afterward, to discuss goals for the upcoming school year with incoming Superintendent Stephanie Starcher.

Starcher, currently principal at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School, was hired at last month’s meeting to replace Gibbs, who is leaving at the end of July to take an associate superintendent job with Athens City Schools.

Zalmanek said the goals will give the board something on which to evaluate Starcher in her first year and also let her know the board’s expectations.