North Royalton Schools Assistant Superintendent Jim Presot plans to retire, double-dip

December 28, 2018

North Royalton Schools Assistant Superintendent Jim Presot plans to retire, double-dip

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio -- Jim Presot, assistant superintendent of North Royalton City Schools, will retire Tuesday -- and will likely be rehired Feb. 1.

This means that Presot, 53, would be able to collect a taxpayer-funded state pension while simultaneously earning a public salary -- a practice commonly called double-dipping. As a retiree, he will earn the same base salary -- $112,551 -- as he is earning now. His state pension amount is not a public record.

The North Royalton Board of Education will likely vote on Presot’s proposed rehiring Jan. 7.

Superintendent Greg Gurka said Presot is needed as the district continues its massive rebuilding project, which involves replacing Albion, Royal View and Valley Vista elementary schools with one new school; adding a wing to North Royalton High School; and renovating North Royalton Middle School. He said Presot is managing the project’s design and construction.

In May 2017, voters approved a 4.4-mill bond issue and a 0.5-mill tax levy that will generate $88.9 million for the rebuilding plan. The school board has approved borrowing the money, which property owners will repay over 30 years.

“Jim not only has the expertise and background to assure success of the district’s major facilities projects, he has the spirit, drive and enthusiasm to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed,” Gurka said in an email to cleveland.com.

“Our district is a better place today because of what Jim has contributed to our North Royalton City Schools family,” Gurka said.

Double-dipping is not an unusual practice among Ohio school districts and municipal governments, including Cleveland’s. In late October and early November, for example, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams retired and was immediately rehired at the same salary.

In 2013, Strongsville City Council, in a 5-2 vote, rehired the retiring John Bedford as the city’s director of communication and technology. Bedford retired for good in 2016.

The Ohio General Assembly is considering legislation, House Bill 708, that would ban double-dipping by state and local-government workers.

The North Royalton school board, as required by law, hosted a public hearing about Presot’s proposed rehiring on Dec. 10. The only citizen who spoke was Jeff Lampert, who served as the North Royalton schools superintendent from 1995-2005.

Lampert himself has double-dipped more than once over the years. At the Dec. 10 hearing, he said he was the one who hired Presot in 1997 as assistant high school principal. He later promoted Presot.

“He (Presot) did a good job then, and he will continue to do a good job in the future,” Lampert said at the hearing. “I know him personally. He’s very compassionate about what he does and is very good at what he does.”

Lampert said Presot is not only a good administrator, he cares about children.

“It’s important for a district to have stability, and when you have good people, you need to treat them right and take care of them, particularly when you have a building program facing you,” Lampert said. “You need somebody who knows the drill, and Jim certainly knows that.”

In addition to a salary, the district contributes about $7,300 a year toward an annuity for Presot. It also pays $17,085 a year toward his family health insurance, as it does for all school employees with family coverage. In addition, the district has picked up Presot’s share of pension payments, which in 2018 has totaled $20,170 as of mid-December, according to Gurka.

Gurka said those benefits would remain the same if the school board rehires Presot in February.

In some past cases, school districts have rehired retired workers at lower salaries. For example, in 2015, East Cleveland City Schools rehired Superintendent Myrna Loy Corley at a reduced rate, thus saving the district money.

Gurka said he doesn’t believe in that premise. He said the district is lucky to have Presot, who can easily find a position elsewhere. 

“For us to replace someone with Jim’s knowledge and skills ... would not come at a lower cost to the district and could possibly cost us more to bring in someone with his experience,” Gurka said. “We are fortunate that we are able to continue our operations seamlessly.”

School board President Susan Clark said the board “is not inclined” to rehire Lampert at a lower salary to perform the same work.

“The Board of Education views Jim’s rehiring as the most fiscally responsible and seamless option, given the detail and complexity of our facilities project,” Clark told cleveland.com in an email.

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