School board payouts to departing executives cost more than you think

Pratt on TexasWhile you’re out voting on the latest efforts to issue big long term debt in your name by local school districts, keep this headline in mind: “Painful penalties haven’t kept school districts from making big payouts to departing executives.”

The Texas Monitor story by Steve Miller documents a pattern of bad management by school boards “that’s been going on for more than two decades.”

Miller reports: “Many of the districts that had their state funding reduced are small, rural districts with fewer than 5,000 students, leaving them with budget holes in addition to superintendent vacancies.

In 2015, the Abilene school district lost $131,642 in state funding for paying departing Superintendent Heath Burns $407,000 in severance after he allegedly failed on two occasions to report relationships between high school teachers and students.

“The penalties have been on the books since 1995, when an omnibus education bill passed that requires the state to withhold funds from a district that pays a settlement worth more than the superintendent’s annual compensation.

“Districts have for years paid large sums to departing superintendents, either to help convince an unpopular official to leave or because the superintendent simply wanted to retire or had a better job offer.

“In almost every case, the severance payment had been agreed to as part of the contract when the official was hired.”

“In 2015, the Abilene school district lost $131,642 in state funding for paying departing Superintendent Heath Burns $407,000 in severance after he allegedly failed on two occasions to report relationships between high school teachers and students. Burns later lost his license over a drug charge,” reminds Miller in the story.

Brownwood and Winters ISD’s are on this list among many others. You might want to think about this pattern of bad school board decisions before you vote.

 

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