Monday, July 18, 2011
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Report: Educator severances cost millions in Illinois

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[July 18, 2011]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Severance packages paid to superintendents have cost Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars over the last decade, according to a report published Sunday.

InsuranceSchool boards have approved six-figure separation checks, district-paid health care, cash for sick days and, in one case, even title to a Mercedes-Benz, to unwanted superintendents, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper reviewed more than 100 superintendent contracts, financial records and severance agreements statewide over the last 10 years, obtained through the state's Freedom of Information Act.

Part of the reason for the healthy severances is fear of lawsuits, but other experts say the deals are made behind closed doors and without the public's scrutiny.


"In these tough economic times, we've got to make common-sense, fair decisions," said Anne Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association. "It probably is not going to look like it has in the past. We cannot mirror Wall Street. These are publicly paid individuals."

In one case, Stanley Fields, a former superintendent of a Cook County school district resigned after a just a year. He left Proviso Township High School District 209 with a $100,000 severance payment and had left a previous Lake County high school earlier, getting more than $30,000 in unused vacation.

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Fields, now superintendent of South Berwyn School District 100, declined to discuss his departure from Proviso. But in his resignation letter he apologized to the community, saying there was a "lack of communication" as well as a "deterioration of trust" with the board, according to the Tribune.

The president of Proviso's school board, Chris Welch, said termination of a superintendent isn't cheap, and school boards should talk about all options, including buyouts or resignation agreements.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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