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North Royalton schools Assistant Superintendent Jim Presot to receive raises while double-dipping in retirement

January 23, 2019

North Royalton schools Assistant Superintendent Jim Presot to receive raises while double-dipping in retirement

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio – Not only will the North Royalton schools rehire now-retired Jim Presot, the district’s former assistant superintendent, it will give him regularly-scheduled raises he would have received had he not retired, schools Superintendent Greg Gurka told cleveland.com.

Presot, who retired Jan. 1, will receive 2-percent raises in August 2019 and August 2020, like all other North Royalton central-office administrators working under a three-year agreement reached last summer.

That means Presot – whose salary rose from $112,551 to $114,802 in August 2018 during the first year of the agreement – will earn $117,098 starting in August 2019 and $119,440 starting in August 2020. Meanwhile, as a retiree still earning a public salary, Presot, 53, will also collect a taxpayer-funded state pension, a practice commonly called double-dipping.

Earlier this month, the school board, without comment, voted 5-0 to rehire Presot. He will fill his former position as assistant superintendent, at the same rate of pay as before he retired, starting Feb. 1.

The board agreed to pay Presot $65,181 for six months of work, from February through July. It’s an amount that needs some explanation.

Doing the math

Gurka said that to reach $65,181, the district first took the $112,551 salary Presot earned prior to his August 2018 raise and divided by two, since his initial rate of pay in 2019 covers only a half-year. The quotient was $56,275.50.

Then, because Presot and other administrators received a 2-percent raise in August 2018, the district added $242.90 to Presot’s February-July 2019 rate. That’s how much Presot received in additional wages over the last five months of 2018 due to his salary increase. The new sum was $56,518.40

The district took one more step. Gurka explained that under State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio rules, Presot, after retiring Jan. 1, would not immediately receive pension benefits unless he stayed unemployed for at least two months. That means Presot, to receive retirement benefits in both January and February, would have to stay out of work until March 1.

However, the district, partly because it’s building a new school and renovating other schools, wanted Presot back sooner.

“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 told cleveland.com last month.

If Presot starts work in February, one month earlier than STRS allows, he will forfeit his February pension. So the board, to make up for that February loss of STRS benefits, added a one-time payment of $8,663 to his February-July 2019 rate, bringing Presot’s salary to $65,181 for the first half of 2019.

Gurka said it’s not necessarily the case that Presot is earning $8,663 a month in pension benefits from STRS. He said $8,663 is simply the amount the board negotiated. Presot’s state pension amount is not a public record.

Additional benefits

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 had totaled $20,170 as of mid-December, according to Gurka.

Gurka said those benefits will remain the same under the new arrangement with Presot.

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.

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