WATERFORD, Conn (WTNH) The superintendent of schools in Waterford was busy for much of Tuesday in budget meetings but it’s actually his salary that has some concerned when they think about budgets.
Among those are members of AFT, the teachers union in town, which recently took out newspaper and radio ads.
“Does the Waterford Board of Education pass the test?” asks a male voice in the radio ad which goes on to criticize members of the board of education “…they voted for a deal with the retired school superintendent allowing him to collect $360,000 a year.”
We asked superintendent Jerome Belair if he realized there was a sentiment like that in town.
“I didn’t I was surprised and I think part of this is some misinformation around the agreement,” he answered.
Belair says the legal agreement allows him to receive the same $220,000 compensation he signed on for before he retired October first. That’s when his contract was modified.
State law does not allow retired superintendents to receive more than 45 percent of a full salary so the Board of Education voted to pay Belair $99,000 in salary and $121,000 into his retirement fund.
He now also receives $140,000 a year from the state pension he earned after 37 and a half years of working.
It’s a deal the teacher’s union says is not in the spirit of the law.
“It definitely would bother me someone making that much money especially on the situation we’re in right now the schools needing different facilities, kids without lunch money,” says Waterford parent Esteban Reyes.
The board of education will now consider extending the current contract another year as it searches for a new superintendent.
If Belair didn’t receive the salary – someone else would and some might feel more comfortable with that.
The law is designed to avoid what some see as double dipping.
Belair sees it as him earning a full time salary for doing a full time job. Something he says has been done for other retired superintendents working during transitions as well.
“Boards would like to hold onto them a little bit longer as they go through a search process and I think the bottom line is this is no additional cost for the taxpayer of Waterford,” says Belair. “I’m earning a compensation package that reflects my contract when I was not retired.”
The board of education is meeting at Waterford town hall on Thursday at 7pm so anyone who wants to weigh in on this situation can address members that night.