Former trustee unhappy with school district

"Clearly the school district knew what the [severance] totals would be."

A former school board trustee says she is disappointed about a lack of transparency coming from the Coast Mountains school district.

Speaking about money paid in severance packages to the former superintendent and secretary treasurer, Tanis Kilpatrick said the dollar amount given to the public should have included the value of their benefits as well as their salaries.

Benefit costs add up to almost $100,000, and bring the amount paid out in severance up to about $450,000.

Current secretary treasurer for the school district Alanna Cameron said the 18-month severance package amounted to $188,400 in salary for former superintendent Rob Greenwood, as well as continued benefit coverage with an estimated value of $62,700.

Former secretary treasurer Linda Brown’s severance package included $181,000 in salary as well as $34,000 in estimated continued benefit coverage.

The school district severed its relationship with Greenwood and Brown in Oct. 2010, meaning their 18-month severance packages continue into this spring.

Kilpatrick said the number, including benefits, was given to the businesses committee of the school board in September and that the dollar amount should have been included in the annual Statement of Financial Information (SOFI). It states two severances agreements were made but does not attach a dollar value. The SOFI was released by the school board at its Jan. 25 monthly meeting.

“It’s public information,” Kilpatrick said, who said she is disappointed this dollar figure was not included in the SOFI.

“That information should have been provided for you, and clearly the school district knew what the totals would be,” she said.

A Dec. 28, 2011 story in The Terrace Standard outlined the value of the salary severance paid to Greenwood and Brown and while it said the package included benefits, did not list that dollar value.

In an email explaining why she left the school board, Kilpatrick said it is difficult for the public or for that matter, some trustees, to receive timely, clear and complete information on an issue.

“It’s not a new thing,” she said, adding that many topics discussed in camera should have been public knowledge during her term.

Kilpatrick said that during her time as a Coast Mountains school board trustee she felt the board needed to bring about change on issues such as community involvement, cost effectiveness, decisions based on evidence, transparency and accountability.

“My frustration is that in order to make progress on any of these issues requires a majority of like-minded trustees,” she said.”Unfortunately, in my term, we did not have that majority and we accomplished very little.”

Kilpatrick was a fierce critic of school board policy for years and served one term as a trustee on the Coast Mountains school board from 2008 – 2011.

She now resides in Vancouver and had moved there in the final stages of her three-year term.