Retiring superintendent receives nearly $1 million in severance - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Retiring superintendent receives nearly $1 million in severance

WAYNE TOWNSHIP, IN (CNN) - An Indiana school board has learned a costly lesson after having to pay a former superintendent $815,000 in severance and retirement pay.

Terry Thompson led the school corporation in Wayne Township, IN since 1996 and has worked in the state's school system for 40 years.

The former school chief received three checks: $29,000, $158,000 and $628,000.

The biggest check was from sick days he never used.

Thompson left the job at the end year, and the retirement package is in the contract and was authorized by the school board.

"The contract has a lot of language in it that doesn't include any of the numbers that you see in these checks," Mary McDermott-Lang, Wayne Township Schools Spokeswoman, said.

Thompson's contract was renegotiated in 2007.

The contract included the near $1 million payout, a one-year contract that paid him $1300 a day and a $150,000 Superintendent Emeritus position to help transition to a new superintendent.

"The board looks back at this and realizes it was an extremely complicated contract," McDermott-Lang said. "It did receive advice from our district attorney on the legality of it, not on the financial implications of it."

The school corporation has experienced tough economic times, but good financial stewardship allowed it to pay the sum without layoffs.

"He had done, in their view, an excellent job for the district," Lang said. "He had achieved a lot for students. They were eager to keep him."

Some of Thompson's neighbors said the money was well spent.

"I don't know contracts. I don't know how these things are negotiated, but I do know he's been a great superintendent," Ron Bontrager, a neighbor, said. "He's done a fabulous job leading this district in a tough time in the last three years."

The school board has taken a "live and learn" approach to the matter, and the new superintendent's contract has no lucrative language.

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