SALIDA — School district trustees have agreed to pay former Superintendent Doug Baughn $102,000 to settle his contract three weeks after he resigned.
The payout frustrates employees and parents who are bracing for spending cuts through layoffs and the closure of an elementary school.
Baughn abruptly resigned Feb. 16, leaving Salida Union School District staff to address a $3.25 million shortfall for the next academic year made worse by a $760,000 budgeting error.
Most people who resign don't get a financial payout. But Baughn's contract required that his departure be of "mutual agreement" between Baughn and trustees — or because of retirement, physical disability or breach of contract, according to the document.
The mutual agreement clause entitles him to receive six to 18 months of pay, said Twila Tosh, interim superintendent. Baughn's contract ran through June 2011; he was paid about $135,000 a year.
"In order to avoid the costs of litigation, we were advised by legal counsel to accept the agreement," Tosh told people who attended a special meeting of the school board Monday.
Calls to Baughn's home seeking comment Tuesday were not returned.
As part of the agreement, Baughn will provide "consultant services" to the district through October as it hands the reins to a new superintendent.
The buyout was approved the same night trustees voted to send layoff notices to more than 20 teachers, counselors and a principal. Those warnings must go out by March 15, with final pink slips sent by May 15.
The cuts could save $2 million.
"It's extremely frustrating," said Tom Wright, Salida Teachers Association co-president. "Now (trustees) have to cough up $100,000 when they're making huge cuts. Many of us are ready to move forward but these things are always setbacks."
Tosh acknowledged the contradiction.
"It's odd, it's a bit uncomfortable," she said Tuesday. "It does look ridiculous, but we can't do anything about the timing. We have to make the best of what we have."
Tosh's salary is increasing by only $4,000 this year despite covering jobs once done by four employees — superintendent, assistant superintendent, head of human resources for certificated employees and head of special education, she said.
She's also working on restructuring the district office to provide more oversight of the budget.
Lack of supervision is what lead to the $760,000 gaffe discovered in November, officials have said.
The mistake triggered greater financial oversight by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
Although Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jim Yardy was responsible for finances, the new structure has him focusing on the district's transportation, maintenance and construction divisions.
Another administrator will focus on managing the budget.
And Tosh said she's taken a greater role in monitoring accounting and budgeting.
The turmoil is not over. Trustees will discuss and vote Tuesday on which elementary school to close next school year.
It appears officials are focusing on closing Salida or Mildred Perkins elementary schools to save about $400,000.
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2339.