Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Costly Lessons Learned on Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program

Last night's Fox C-6 school board agenda was changed after the board learned that they did not have to vote on approving Early Retirement or Early Separation agreements with employees. Per the district attorney, once the offer is made to an employee and the offer is accepted the district has a contract with the employee. This was explained in CFO John Brazeal's Voluntary Separation Incentive Program response that he sent me on Monday November 17, 2014 which I posted in yesterday's article.

It wasn't until after I had written about the changes made at the November 3, 2014 workshop to the VSIP program that Mr. Brazeal began looking into how the changes came about to the policy since my information appeared inaccurate. That's because Mr. Brazeal had been provided with the most recent version of the plan which hadn't been updated on the website. My research into the issue was based on what was currently known to the public. That's how the VSIP response came about that I wrote about yesterday and linked to below.

That being said, the changes to remove the 10 Years of Service requirement to the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program were made in February 2014. The 10 Years of Service requirement language had been removed at the same time that the upper limit was removed when former superintendent Dianne Critchlow presented the changes to the board. Fox's former legal counsel had informed the board that the upper limit was discriminatory and that it needed to be removed.

This is another example of how lack of transparency makes it very easy for the administration to manipulate the board and the public. The board nor the public were provided proper time to review the changes made to policies prior to the board meeting or workshop.

By not providing documents to board members days in advance for review made it very easy for former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Critchlow to get changes approved with little to no review.

That's why the board is "taking a serious look" at it's options as quoted in today's Post Dispatch article posted below. This should not have taken place but it did. It occurred on numerous occasions over the years and that's why I was continually pressing to make the board packets available to the public prior to the board meetings. It should have been much easier to hold the district accountable. But, as everyone has learned, hiding things from the public makes it easy to get away with a lot of things before people begin catching on to what's been going on.

As far as transparency goes, you know you've made a little progress when you see people at Fox C-6 school board meetings now following along on their tablet computer or phone reading the board meeting packet!

Hopefully the Fox school board will be able to correct the changes that were made to the Voluntary Early Retirement Program and restore the 10 Years of Service requirement prior to paying out taxpayer money to those that would not have been eligible prior to February 2014.