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Yager to retire as head of SACS

Effective at end of 2013-14 school year; assistant to take over


– A transition of leadership is ahead at Southwest Allen County Schools after Superintendent Steven Yager announced Tuesday that he will retire in 2014.

Philip Downs, currently assistant superintendent, will step in to fill the open superintendent position on July 1, 2014, the board announced.

Downs, 47, was promoted to associate superintendent Tuesday.

“I’m incredibly excited at the opportunity to join and lead such a phenomenal team,” Downs said. “The people who work in Southwest Allen work hard every day for children, … and I’m flattered and honored that they would consider me to continue the leadership that Dr. Yager has provided.”

Yager, 62, joined the district on July 13, 2009. He previously was superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools for 19 years. He will retire June 30, 2014.

Downs worked for Yager for eight years at Northwest Allen before following him to Southwest Allen three years ago.

“I saw this position available to work for someone who I regard as one of the best superintendents around and decided to apply for the assistant superintendent position,” Downs said.

Yager described Downs as passionate about education and compassionate about students.

“One of the tasks the board asked me to take on when I came on was come up with a transition plan for when I would eventually retire,” Yager said. “We looked far and wide and did many interviews and were very pleased that Dr. Downs came our way.”

Board members praised Yager for his role in recruiting and training Downs to take his place and unanimously approved the leadership changes.


Board members also approved Yager’s final contract through June 2014.

Yager will be paid a base salary of $150,000 for the 2013-14 school year.

In addition to his base salary, Yager will receive a compensation package totaling $71,041.15. That package includes life, health, dental and vision insurance, an annuity, a transportation allowance, lifetime disability insurance, a 401(a) contribution, Social Security and business and professional association dues.

This year, Yager’s contract was set at $187,000 including his base salary, transportation and annuity. His 2012-13 pay also included a 2.5 percent stipend, which added an additional $4,675 to his pay, Business Manager Jim Coplen said.

The board then approved a three-year contract for Downs that will run from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2017.

That contract will set his base salary at $132,500 for 2014-15, $137,500 for the 2015-16 and $142,500 for 2016-17.

His compensation package will be $64,461 for the first year, $65,522.38 for the second year and $66,582.89 for the third year.

The package includes life, health, dental and vision insurance, an annuity, a transportation allowance, phone allowance, lifetime disability insurance, a 401(a) contribution, Social Security and business and professional association dues.

In addition, the three-year contract would include a performance-based compensation to be determined each year. That bonus could include up to $10,000 annually.


Also on Tuesday, the board decided to delay a decision about the fingerprinting program proposed last week for the food service department.

The district would pay about $32,314 to install devices in all cafeterias. That amount would be paid for through the food-service fund, Coplen said.

Several parents attended Tuesday’s meeting to express their concerns, citing issues with the identiMetrics program that would require students to submit fingerprint scans to receive school lunches.

Coplen said he’d also heard concerns from other parents but explained that the system would use “major markers” from fingerprints – not the fingerprint as a whole – to scan for students, thus eliminating any security concerns.

The board attempted a vote to move the program through, but the motion failed to get enough support to pass.

The board will discuss the identiMetrics program again in two weeks.