The state of Indiana has a total debt of $27,563,948,872 when calculated by adding the total of outstanding debt, pension and OPEB UAAL’s, unemployment trust funds and the 2010 budget gap as of July 2010. This is one reason why:
In just one school district alone — Indianapolis’ Wayne County — its retired school superintendent Terry Thompson not only gets paid $1,353 a day to serve in an “advisory” capacity as Superintendent Emeritus, his entire retirement package is worth a whopping ONE MILLION DOLLARS.
Thompson was superintendent for 15 years — for a school district with a total of only 15,700 students.
Ex-schools chief to quit $1,352-a-day job
Move follows criticism of retirement package worth more than $1M
By Bill McCleery – IndyStar.com – Jan 28, 2011
The five-month position, considered unusual if not unprecedented among Indiana school administrators, was part of a $1 million retirement package that has drawn protest from township School Board members — even though most of them voted to approve it four years ago.
Thompson, who retired in December after 15 years as superintendent, did not respond to calls made to his home Friday. In a written statement provided to The Indianapolis Star, he did not directly mention the board’s call for his resignation as superintendent emeritus, saying only that “it is time for me to take on a different role” in Wayne Township Schools. School district attorney Jon M. Bailey said he expects Thompson’s resignation Monday, adding, “We’ve exchanged proposals with his counsel, and I anticipate agreement.”
None of the seven School Board members — five of whom were in office and voted for the renegotiated contract in 2007 — responded to telephone messages.
Like other districts in this time of reduced revenues, Wayne — which has more than 15,700 students — has had to eliminate some programs, freeze administrators’ pay and reduce teaching positions through attrition. So why did board members approve Thompson’s lucrative retirement package in the first place?
They probably neglected to calculate the actual amount they would be promising Thompson, Bailey said, adding that he now regrets not doing more to inform them. “Did they fully understand how much money was in that package? No, I don’t think they did,” said Bailey, who represented the school district at the time of the renegotiation. “I was asked to approve it as to form and legality, and that’s what I did.”
The contract showed Thompson received more than $817,000 in lump sum severance payouts, including annual base pay of $225,000 as well as accrued vacation and sick pay and other considerations, all paid when he retired last month. The superintendent emeritus position, which included advising his successor, would have paid Thompson an additional $202,000 over the 150 days specified in the contract — and pushed the total retirement package to more than $1 million.
“It was a very lucrative contract,” Bailey said. “With benefit of hindsight, rather than just doing the narrow task I was assigned to do, the board would have been better served had I grabbed them by the lapels and said, ‘Let’s slow this down.’ ” But, Bailey added, he doubts it would have made much difference. Thompson, the 2010 Indiana Superintendent of the Year, was considered among the area’s strongest school administrators, and other districts were trying to lure him away.
“It came at a time when he was deciding whether to finish his career at Wayne or go somewhere else to finish his career,” said Bailey, an attorney at Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis. “He possesses a package of skills that were very unique, and I think the board was quite frankly afraid to lose him.”
In his written statement, Thompson said the contract was “mutually negotiated” and was “based in part on my record of service.” He touted the district’s accomplishments during his tenure, such as launching all-day kindergarten and a college-credit program for high school students.
Most of the money promised Thompson has been paid, and board members as well as Bailey were drawing criticism Friday.
“I am so upset with the School Board members’ lack of integrity and lack of knowledge of what their job is. . . . The School Board attorney was not looking out for the best interests of the taxpayers and families in Wayne Township,” said Julie Volbers-Klarich, a parent and former teacher in the district. “My plan is that I hope to speak at the next School Board meeting and ask the five board members who were there in 2007 to resign. . . . We entrusted them to do a job that they failed to do.”