So Eric Ely, defiant superintendent of Schenectady schools is going, going … and after tomorrow, gone.
The question is, on what terms?
My best information is that the school board is buying him out, that is, paying him some portion of his salary and benefits for the next two years, though I don’t know what portion. He makes something like $189,000 a year, everything included, so even a modest portion could be a substantial sum of money.
Santa Maria! you might say. Why not just wait another week until there are two more reformers on the board, for a super-majority of five, and fire the guy per his contract?
Concerns about due process, concerns about the strength of the evidence, concerns about his appeal rights, I am told.
All I can say is that the termination-for-cause section of his contract should be deleted from the contract of his successor and all other Schenectady school administrators. If it can’t be used against him, it can’t be used against anyone.
His actions or inactions in overseeing or not overseeing the notorious Steve Raucci fell just short of indictable, landing instead on the level of “misfeasance or malfeasance,” according to District Attorney Bob Carney.
If he can’t be terminated for cause, nobody can be terminated for cause.
Another question: Is the board going to vote on this agreement tonight without revealing what it is?
The agenda for the meeting is posted on the school district’s website, complete with Resolution No. 100629, accepting Ely’s resignation “subject to the terms of a written agreement,” but the written agreement is not shown.
At first I thought this was more secretive work of the outgoing Jeff Janiszewski club, but now I understand that newcomers on the board are a party to it — in the interest of “moving on,” as the cliché has it.
I can’t say I entirely blame them. Get back to educating kids.
We don’t know where Ely is going, and he might not know either. I know where I’d like him to go, but it’s a blasphemous thought, and I try to supress it for the protection of my soul.
He has been applying for superintendent’s jobs all over the country but so far has had no luck, having struck out in Arlington, Mass., Billings, Mont., Erie, Pa., Toledo, Ohio, and Mansfield, Ohio, that we know of.
He is still in the running in Southbridge, Mass. (population 17,214), where announcement of the winner is scheduled for tomorrow.
Certainly if he got fired he would be unemployable at any level above buildings-and-grounds supervisor, which is what Raucci was, whereas a buyout allows him to continue to offer his services.
I hope Schenectady board members can live with their consciences if he does find another superintendent berth. I wouldn’t want such a thing on my conscience.
Meanwhile, in the real estate front, if you’re interested in a nice four-bedroom in Schenectady, you might consider making an offer on Ely’s house on Oakland Avenue.
He listed it for sale in January at $219,500, when he started scrambling for a job. A few months later he knocked it down to $209,900, and now I see it’s knocked down further to $199,900. At this point I believe he is what real estate people call a motivated seller.
As for what I’m going to do with myself from now on, I don’t know. Stricos retired, San Angelo retired, Raucci is in jail, Janiszewski’s last day is tomorrow, and now Ely is on his way out. I sense lean days ahead, and I hope you will keep me in your prayers.