For the huge bill it's sending to taxpayers, the Niskayuna school board owes the public a lot better reason than "philosophical differences" for its "voluntary separation" from Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio.
The board on Friday agreed to terminate the superintendent's contract more than a year early, agreeing to pay her a lump sum of $139,000, plus her health insurance through June of next year.
Not only will Niskayuna taxpayers have to pay Salvaggio all this money not to be the superintendent, they'll have to foot the bill for an interim superintendent, an extensive search for her replacement and the salary and compensation for a new superintendent.
Yet aside from a few politically correct, ambiguous statements, the school board has stuffed a rag in its own mouth so as not to spill the real reasons for this unusual and sudden outcome. Given that the board gave the superintendent a vote of confidence via a contract extension just nine months ago, the least it could do now is provide the public with more details about its "differences of opinions" with Salvaggio. Specifically, how had the relationship between the board and Salvaggio deteriorated so badly so quickly, what exactly were the differences and why couldn't the relationship be repaired?
Not only did the board refuse to articulate the reasons once word of the deal got out, it held the special meeting for the decision without notifying the press, a clear violation of the Open Meetings Law. Board members called it an "oversight," but it sure was convenient for them that no reporters were there to pose questions on the spot.
When the school board agreed to this voluntary separation, it didn't just owe the superintendent a substantial check. It owed the public an explanation .