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Austintown Local School District Rebuttal specific to recent WFMJ Watchdog Report

official rebuttal


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The Austintown Local School District previously indicated that it would not have any comment specific to Mr. Colaluca’s Retirement/Separation Agreement beyond the joint press release made in May.  However, the WFMJ Watchdog Report contains factual inaccuracies regarding the payments to Mr. Colaluca which must be addressed in the interest of full and accurate disclosure. 


  • It was reported that “Under the "Retirement/Separation Agreement," the school board paid Colaluca a lump sum last May of $122,000 after signing the deal. That was for the remainder of this contract year, which included unused paid time off for vacation, sick time, and personal days.”   


  • This is not correct.  Mr. Colaluca was paid for the balance of his 2018-2019 contract year which he previously earned over the course of the year.  Specifically, he was paid in full in May with a lump sum amount of $23,688.71.   This reflects the amount of salary he had earned for the 2018-2019 school year at the time of his retirement which had not yet been paid to him.  He would have been owed this amount even if he had not retired; it is not an additional amount.


  • It was reported that “The school district's total payout to Colaluca as a superintendent in retirement will be just over $326,421 by June of 2020.” 


  • This is not correct.  As noted, Mr. Colaluca was paid the balance of his 2018-2019 contract year in an amount of $23,688.71. This amount was previously earned during the 2018-2019 school year and owed to Mr. Colaluca so it is not an additional amount paid to him in retirement.  Additionally, in accordance with Ohio law, he was given the balance of his accrued but unused sick and vacation days along with accrued but unused personal days in the amount of $65,382.66. He was also given a severance benefit of $12,500 paid into an annuity.  Finally, he will receive his 2019-2020 salary of $124,539.  All of the amounts to be paid in retirement total $202,421.66, not $326,421.  Furthermore, under Ohio law, school district administrators are entitled to be paid out for accrued but unused sick and vacation days.


  • Finally, as previously mentioned, in a strategic cost-savings measure, the Board chose not to replace the District’s Assistant Superintendent and one of our Curriculum Directors for the 2018-2019 academic school year after the individuals in those positions left the District.  Instead, those two administrative positions, which were historically full-time positions, were handled for all of the 2018-2019 academic school year and continue to be led by other existing employees within the district for a substantial cost reduction.  The total cost savings to the district by not filling these positions is $266,370.64. This amount of savings is more than the amount that will be paid to Mr. Colaluca in retirement.  Thus, the Board of Education believes it has made and continues to make strategic fiscal decisions which are in the best interests of the district. 


Again, the entirety of our focus is on moving our district forward under the leadership of David Cappuzzello.    




Don Sherwood
Board President
Austintown Local School District



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