Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie) Chair, Senate Education Committee today announced that he will be introducing legislation to prohibit the buyout of school superintendents’ contracts. At present a school board may remove a superintendent without cause and provide a significant severance package.
This legislation would prohibit a cash severance payment to a superintendent. In addition, a superintendent who leaves prior to the completion of their contract would be prevented from receiving benefits in excess of those afforded to other collectively bargained employees. Further the legislation would statutorily prohibit superintendents from being removed without cause. If a superintendent was to be removed for cause an independent arbitrator would be brought in to make a binding determination. Presently, independent arbitrators are used when superintendents have a clause in their contracts requiring that termination only occur based on cause.
At present superintendents may have contracts for up to five years. This legislation would make the maximum length of a contract three years with renewal up to two years in length. This bill would only relate to future superintendent contracts not existing contracts.
"This policy would give the public greater assurance that their taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately," said Senator Saland. "I believe that removing the secrecy surrounding these buyouts and setting guidelines for the removal of superintendents will offer assurance to the public that compensation is made only with the best interests of students and taxpayers in mind."
In recent years there have been at least nine cases across New York State where superintendents leave positions with large buyouts with little or no explanation ever provided to the public about the agreed upon terms and
conditions. In December there was a case in the Middleburgh Central School District where a superintendent would receive nearly $32,000 for unused vacation days. In the City of Poughkeepsie its superintendent was likewise offered a buyout in December that included his full $163,500 annual salary through July 2007 as well as a benefits package.
"This legislation is directed at a process that has caused considerable concern, if not outcry, in those communities where this type of ‘buyout’ has occurred," said Senator Saland.