The hunt is on for a new school superintendent now that the final papers are signed for the mutual termination agreement.
Two weeks ago, the Fayette County Board of Education held a three hour executive session and, when they emerged, school superintendent Dr. Jeffery Bearden said he “recommended the board and superintendent enter into a mutual termination agreement to be effective January 1, 2013.”
The board approved the move in a 4-1 vote, with only school board chairman Leonard Presberg opposing the motion.
Board members refused comment, filing out immediately after the vote but the next day released the only official statement the public has so far gotten.
“At a specially called meeting on September 19, 2012, the Superintendent and Board of Education agreed, in accordance with the terms of the Superintendent’s employment agreement, to a mutual termination of that agreement effective January 1, 2013.”
Bearden’s contract was originally slated to be up in December of this year, but in June the school board extended the contract until June 2015.
Bearden’s exit comes on the heels of the exit of Clayton County superintendent Edmond Heatley’s announced resignation.
Bearden has been under fire from some board members and community leaders regarding his recommendations to close at least three Fayette County schools - Hood Avenue Primary, Fayette Intermediate and Fayette Middle Schools - to help close the gap in the county’s budget.
Since his original April presentation, the board has fired other possible options back and forth, often ending with a 3-2 vote and adding more to Bearden’s closing criteria.
The termination agreement gives Bearden an amount equal to a year’s salary - $153,000- as well as requiring the board to pay “the premium or costs for one year of health insurance with the State Health Benefit Plan.” Additionally, “if that coverage is transferred to the Undersigned’s spouse as an employee of the school districting, taking into account and subtracting any amount already paid by the school district as a benefit to the spouse for such insurance coverage.”
According to school board public information officer Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, for health insurance, the employer contribution is the same for all certified persons at $912 per month, regardless of the health plan selected or the number of dependents. The employee premium for Bearden’s spouse would change from the employee only cost of $94.92 to the family cost of $350.86 per month in 2013.
“This is an additional $255.94 per month and the health insurance provision will only go into effect if Dr. Bearden does not secure a position with benefits prior to his departure.
Another one of the terms of the agreement gives Bearden “an amount equal to the daily rate of pay for any accumulated but unused annual leave accrued.” That would mean Bearden would receive $637.50 for each day of unused leave. Also, he will receive up to $2,500 in attorney’s fees incurred as a result of negotiation of the agreement.
The agreement prevents either party from making disparaging statements about the other, and the board of education to provide a letter of reference.
--See BEARDEN, page 2
Though nobody is talking about the cause for Bearden’s abrupt departure, a portion of the terms of the agreement asserts “This agreement is to compromise a disputed claim and for no other purpose. All parties agree, understand and acknowledge that the parties recognize, admit or acknowledge no liability whatsoever to each other and that the parties specifically deny any such liability. Neither this agreement nor any payment hereunder is to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of the other party.”
At Monday night’s meeting Presberg said he had begun making inquiries to begin the search for a new superintendent and has contacted the Georgia School Board’s Association for their help.
“They were the ones who did the search the last time and this is, I think, something we need to start moving on. The community is concerned about what happens next and I’d like to move forward either reengaging them (GSBA) or someone else.”
In a rare unanimous vote, the board agreed to turn it over to GSBA to get the search going.