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Taxpayers owed input on buyouts

Taxpayers owed input on buyouts

Once again, a school district approved a superintendent buyout without informing taxpayers of its te

Once again, a school district has passed a going-away package for an unwanted superintendent without telling the public the terms of the deal before approving it.

Earlier this month, it was Niskayuna. Now it's Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville, which on Thursday parted ways with Superintendent Laura Lawrence less than a year into her three-year contract.

Like in Niskayuna, residents had no idea before the decision was made how much the district had decided to pay the outcast superintendent to go away. In OESJ, they still don't. They don't even know why Lawrence was placed on paid leave in November, only six months into her term. People have speculated, but the board has provided no answers.

District officials said at the meeting announcing Lawrence's formal departure Thursday that details of the separation agreement could be released soon, pending a request to her lawyer. How magnanimous. Knowing the details of the separation agreement after the fact does nothing for taxpayers, other than saddle them with a bill they had no say in and which they have no choice but to pay.

Government boards have an obligation to be caretakers for the people's money. And that means letting them know how much of it they're planning to spend and why. Another expensive, secret buyout being placed on the backs of local taxpayers represents a disturbing pattern of abuse of power.

Taxpayers in the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville school district deserve some answers. Even more, they deserved those answers before it was too late for them to do anything about it.

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