Superintendent buyout limitations advance

Posted: March 07, 2012

HARRISBURG - A bill designed to limit the taxpayer cost of buyouts for public school superintendents and expose their terms to greater public view took a first step in the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday in the wake of a couple of heavily criticized payouts.

The bill, approved unanimously by the Education Committee, would require severance packages to be detailed in contracts that are public records. It also would impose caps on the value of buyouts negotiated later by school boards and superintendents who agree not to follow the contract.

Other limits would apply to compensation for unused sick leave for new hires who have no experience as a superintendent or assistant superintendent.

The bill was spurred in part by the controversial buyout of Philadelphia Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman.

Ackerman resigned with three more years on her contract and received $905,000 in severance pay in an unusual buyout that included $405,000 in private money.

The caps would limit superintendents or assistant superintendents who leave less than two years before their contract ends to a buyout that does not exceed half of the total compensation and benefits due under the remaining contract. Superintendents or assistant superintendents who leave earlier could collect up to the equivalent of one year's compensation and benefits due under the contract.

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