Concerned over a $43-million budget deficit that could affect 16,000 school district employees, the head of the Pinellas teachers union said Friday that outgoing superintendent Clayton Wilcox should have to pay at least part of the district's cost to find his replacement.
Jade Moore, executive director of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, acknowledged that it would be unreasonable to enforce a clause in Wilcox's contract that requires him to pay the full cost of a superintendent search up to $60,000 if he unilaterally terminates the contract before June 30. Wilcox likely would stay until that date rather than leave on June 3, the date the board has agreed to let him go.
Likewise, Moore said, asking Wilcox to cover the full cost of a Florida School Boards Association search — $6,000 plus expenses, for a total of up to $25,000 — would be a poor business decision for the board, since the district would have to pay Wilcox $28,000 in salary to cover the additional weeks of his employment.
But that doesn't mean the board shouldn't ask for any reimbursement, Moore said.
"Wilcox has put the board in the position of having to conduct a search three years earlier than they had planned," he said. "The very least the board should do is ask him to pay the $6,000. Asking him to pay that much is the responsible thing to do."
Board member Carol Cook disagreed, saying it would be inappropriate to ask Wilcox to help pay for the search.
"It's almost like a sour grapes kind of thing," Cook said.
But board member Janet Clark, who pressed the board at a workshop Thursday to enforce the clause, agreed that Wilcox should have to pay at least a portion of the search expense.
"A contract is a contract," Clark said. "I feel a good faith gesture would be appropriate. He should realize it's the right thing to do."
Donna Winchester can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8413.