School district severance payments top $350,000

COAST MOUNTAINS school district is paying out just over $350,000 to two senior officials whose contracts it terminated in Oct. 2010.

  • Dec. 28, 2011 12:00 p.m.

COAST MOUNTAINS school district is paying out just over $350,000 to two senior officials whose contracts it terminated in Oct. 2010.

Both former school district superintendent Rob Greenwood and former secretary treasurer Linda Brown will have received 18 months worth of salary by the time the pay outs end next April.

Speaking last week, school district chair Art Erasmus said the board decided it wanted a different senior level management approach, one that did not include either Greenwood, a 22-year employee with the district, or Brown, who had been with the district since early 2007.

Greenwood’s last listed salary was $122,138 (up from $112,839 at the time of the signing of his last contract in May 2006). He also received a vehicle allowance of $4,500 a year in addition to the district’s standard benefits package.

Brown’s last listed salary was $116,732 (up from $105,600 at the time of the signing of her last contract in February 2007). She also received the district’s standard benefits package.

Over the course of his 18-month payout, Greenwood will receive $183,207 in salary while Brown will receive $175,098 over her 18 month period.

Greenwood’s departure was announced Oct. 14, 2010 and effective the next day and Brown’s was announced Oct. 19, 2010.

Under terms of each person’s contract, two-thirds of the board had to agree to ending employment whereupon the board would provide 18 months notice.

Brown’s contract also provided for a lump sum payment of six months instead of notice but this would have required the consent of both parties.

Greenwood’s contract also contained a provision for a lump sum payment of 18 months as an alternate to 18 months notice.

Erasmus, who was not the school board chair when Greenwood and Brown were severed, said that after discussions involving lawyers it was agreed to pay Greenwood out over 18 months, after which he would then retire.

Erasmus would not say how he personally voted but did say the departures of Greenwood and Brown followed the wish of the board.

“The board decided it wanted to take a different approach,” said Erasmus describing what took place as similar to a corporate reorganization.

The result was the creation of two committees – one for the business side of the district and the other for the education side of the district.

Stemming from that process was the decision to end the services of Greenwood and Brown, said Erasmus.

He did say the board did not take its decisions lightly.

“In terms of it being a difficult decision, it was a difficult decision,” said Erasmus. “These things are never pleasant.”

In particular, Erasmus has known Greenwood for the better part of 20 years.

Erasmus said the board also realized what the costs would be and acknowledged that the overall costs would stand out when compared to the board’s budget of approximately $53 million.

Erasmus did say providing 18 months of severance is standard for executive level officials within provincial school districts.

The board has since hired Nancy Wells as its school superintendent. She was first brought up as an interim superintendent and is now staying until a permanent one is found.

Alanna Cameron, the district’s finance director, had been acting secretary treasurer since Brown left and was officially named as her replacement last month.

This fall the school district added $500,000 to its planned deficit, raising the figure to $2.1 million from $1.6 million.

At the time, the district said the increase was due to higher salary costs, hiring new people, paying for special needs and covering higher utility costs.

The district had been covering the gap in revenues compared to costs by dipping into an account created in part by surpluses accumulated when the district was operating on a four-day week.

Erasmus said the increase in the projected deficit was not a result of the termination payments.

 

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