What do you get when a school board is allowed to make deals without the public's knowledge?
You get what taxpayers in the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville school district got the other day.
The school board late last month announced that it had reached a settlement to buy out its superintendent, less than a year into her three-year contract. The board approved the deal without informing the public that it was coming and without disclosing the terms.
On May 1, they finally let the cat out of the bag. Me-OUCH!
The deal calls for taxpayers to pay outgoing Superintendent Laura Lawrence $250,000, plus about $18,000 in health benefits. She's also already been paid $46,000 in the last five months while on paid leave from the district. That means the district is allocating about $314,000 of its $18.5 million budget to pay the superintendent to do nothing. That works out to about $897 for each of the district's 350 students.
OESJ board members also agreed not to disclose the reason for her departure, making the payment even more infuriating because taxpayers don't know if it can be justified.
Taxpayers have a right to know how and why school board members are spending their money. So go ahead and ask them. Leave a message for them on the district switchboard. 568-2014. Or better yet, go to the next school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the high school and ask them personally.
They owe you an explanation.