Westhoff to leave RCAPS

Superintendent will retire from both his positions by July

REED CITY — After nine years of service to Reed City Area Public Schools, superintendent Steven Westhoff has decided to retire. The board of education unanimously granted him a retirement incentive at a meeting on Monday.

Westhoff had been the district’s superintendent for eight years, before adding the role of high school principal to his duties for the current school year. The terms of his retirement include a minimum $65,133 incentive, which is 55 percent of his current salary as superintendent. Westhoff potentially is eligible for another payment of the same amount depending on his future employment status. If he seeks other employment, 50 percent of his salary would count against the second incentive payment.

“We understand it won’t necessarily be a real popular decision to grant this retirement incentive,” board president Dan Boyer said during the meeting. “We have spent a lot of time talking about it and looking at it. We all agree – and I include Mr. Westhoff in this – that at this point in time, this is the best course of action for all of us. We look forward to it being a positive transition.”

Per existing contracts, Westhoff will continue to act as superintendent through June and as high school principal through July. On March 18, the board granted him a contract extension as superintendent through 2016. During a tense special board meeting the next day, the board stated its intent not to re-hire Westhoff as high school principal after his current one-year contract expires at the end of June. It was after that meeting that Westhoff requested the retirement incentive.

“Mr. Westhoff asked to leave, and the board has decided to grant him that with an incentive,” Boyer said. “We were willing to reward his years of service to the district by helping him out financially.”

Westhoff was unavailable to comment further after Monday’s meeting.

Part of the retirement agreement is that Westhoff will be available throughout the upcoming school year to offer guidance to the new superintendent.

For his role as superintendent, Westhoff was paid $118,424 this year. He received an additional $20,000 for his responsibilities as high school principal – a significant savings to the district compared to hiring an additional person to fill the role. Former high school principal Tom Antioho was granted a retirement incentive and hired as the district’s part-time teacher evaluator; his total compensation for the new role plus retirement was about $138,000.

Now faced with filling the superintendent and high school principal positions, continuing the district evaluator position and funding Westhoff’s retirement incentive, board members are continuing to discuss options for balancing RCAPS’ 2013-14 budget.

Boyer expects to have a proposal in May for how to fill the principal position with little additional cost to the district beyond the $20,000 Westhoff was compensated for the role.

One notable point of contention in Westhoff’s tenure as superintendent came in 2008 when the privatization of RCAPS’ food and custodial services led to the recall of four board members.

In other business, the board:

• Approved Classic Property Management, of Grand Rapids, to complete lawn care for the district this spring; and

• Tabled discussion on moving a secretary from a union position to a non-union position.