Why O’Reilly made the jump

Published January 25, 2014 by justicewg

oreilly_smallThis is a post that speculates on the reasons why superintendent O’Reilly chose this time to quit his job. A large part of that speculation involves his current salary, and the raises he has gotten over his time here in Grandview. Let’s establish the facts first. Set the wayback machine for 2006, Sherman.

A 13% increase to start

Previous super Allen left in 2005 with a base pay of $105K per year. He enjoyed frequent and high raises while at the school. There was a lot of talk from the board about how that was OK because he had so much experience, and they said that if they replaced his with a new super with less experience they could save a lot of money.

O”Reilly had no experience as a superintendent (he was a principal at Hilliard Weaver Middle School). The board started him at $119K, a 13% increase over Allen. So much for that “find a younger, cheaper employee” that was promised.

His current base pay is $150K, with some pretty sweet benefits. In the 7 years he has been at the school the board has increased his pay by 24%. That works out to about 3.5% per year, during a time in which the economy crashed and schools were in crisis mode all over the state. There was even a year when the teachers accepted NO increases in pay.

Obviously the school has done a grave disservice to our super and should consider organizing public flagellation rallies as a form of penance.

Why is he “ready for a new challenge?”


So far I have read nothing that explained why O’Reilly is choosing this moment to make the jump. The Dispatch story said he was “ready for a new challenge”, but didn’t have a job lined up. Making a jump without an established location for the landing seems odd in this job market. I have read that experienced supers who have good records with a school system that hits high academic marks and are able to get levies passed are considered rare, and the probability is high that O’Reilly will end up at a much larger system with a higher salary. Not sure about that higher salary, but unless he is moving to Crooksville Exempted School District I think he will land in a larger school system.

But the question remains, why this exact time? There must have been some conversations with the board members in executive session that gave a hint about what was on the way. But those conversations are confidential. Anyone who says that “I know what the real deal is because a board member told me” has to be looked at with a lot of suspicion. If such a leak came from a board member, that board member was breaking the rules and the motivation of that member is in question.

Since anything you read that doesn’t come out of O’Reilly’s mouth is pure speculation, I don’t mind doing some reading of the tea leaves. Here are some possibilities.

Number one: Topping out in the pay range

The board is currently in negotiation with the teachers over their contract. They are also considering putting a new levy on the ballot for this fall. All these factors might have caused the board to tell O’Reilly in his negotiation for his pay, “we can’t continue to give you the big pay raises”. Also, the pay he is getting is now comparable to other school systems in the county. He may have topped out for the money that Grandview Heights can offer.

I rate this possibility as low, given the past behavior of the school board. If the school had the operating funds embezzled by some sort of fraud, and was reduced to paying the teachers with school lunch cheese, the first thing on this school board’s mind would be “how can we give the super another raise?”

Number Two: Somebody was mean to him (also known as “Let no opportunity to smear opponents go unused”).

I’m guessing this story will be circulated in the future about O’Reilly leaving the school.

I have documented the clique of Grandview residents who are in the “SSG”, the group who wants the superintendent to have carte blanche, and is willing to push high raises for any super who goes along with the way they want the school run. After getting all of their candidates elected to the board last fall, they are going to latch on to this opportunity to pound on Adam Miller. The explanation for O’Reilly leaving the school that they will circulate will be that he was driven away because he didn’t get the contract he wanted. They will blame a penny pinching board member who refused to play their game.

This story makes no sense – a single board member can’t affect the board’s decisions on compensation – but the SSG will not let an easy smear go to waste.

One board member couldn’t cause O’Reilly to leave the school. However, a board president – one who controls the board with an iron fist, and can get two other board members to vote for anything he wants, could be the cause of O’Reilly leaving the school.

Number three: The pay raise is mandatory

Flush with their victory last fall, the SSG have been pushing the idea that they should show they won by pushing a high pay raise, maybe 8%, maybe higher.

O’Reilly told them that it was a bad time to be flaunting a high pay raise for the superintendent. Negotiation with the teachers’s union could be stalled and forced into mediation. Passage of a levy in the fall might focus on the continuing high raises the super has been receiving, as an example of how the board has not been doing a good job in containing costs.

Unable to convince these board members who were dead set on a high raise, and foreseeing the trouble it would cause in the future, O’Reilly decided that this was the time to go, rather than watch things deteriorate at the school.

Is the truth out there?

Probably not. I see no reason for O’Reilly to be more open about the reason for his leaving, nothing he could say would help him get a new super position. None of the board members can talk, and if they do it breaks the rules. Maybe we will get the truth some years in the future. I had an interesting conversation with former board member Brian Cook, maybe the present board members will need to clear the conscience sometime down the line.

(Later) Pickerington School District announced that O’Reilly is among eight candidates interviewing for its superintendent’s position in mid April 2014. The stories that I heard of O’Reilly intending to take some sort of administrative position in the school support industry were not correct.

(May 2014) O’Reilly didn’t get the Pickerington superintendent job. I heard there are some parents here in Grandview who are so unhappy with O’Reilly that they sent emails to sabotage his job application at that school. The person who was chosen has her own scandal following her, so the lawsuit still pending against O’Reilly is not that unusual.

(August 2014) Ouch, Oreilly landed with a crunch. After the Pickerington super position didn’t work out, who knows how many other school administrative positions he applied for. If it was for a sub-super job it would be hard to track. The guesses that he would take some sort of administrative position in the school support industry were  correct after all.

Ed O’Reilly is taking his talents to the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, which has a staff roster that reads like a Who’s Who of central Ohio superintendents and administrators… He is taking a pay cut with his new gig: His salary as superintendent was $158,050. At the service center, he’ll earn $88,000 under a 220-day contract.

From what I have heard the ESC is the employer that always has a job for a school administrator who is out of the schools, for whatever reason. Not paying so well, that has to hurt. I have not read any news on the lawsuit, but at this point it is a “who cares”, unless it ended with a big payout, and I don’t see that happening.  I think this is the end of the O’Reilly story at Grandview Heights.

Douglass and O’Reilly didn’t get along very well

One last story about O’Reilly and how he left the school. During the June 19, 2014 board meeting, there was a special tribute to the departing super. Three past school board members spoke about what a good job he had done, and current board member Brannan gave him a well-wishing. The odd thing was that Brannan shouldn’t have been the one to give him the complements, that should have been Grant Douglass speaking. Where was he? The record showed he brought the meeting to order, then just before the O’Reilly tribute, he left the meeting because of “another engagement”. Twenty minutes later, after O’Reilly left, Douglass returned to the meeting.

I had heard about the bad blood between Douglass and O’Reilly, but apparently it was so bad that Douglas had to leave the room? Wow. Classy.

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