In a surprising 4-3 vote, members of the passed a motion Tuesday night to allow Superintendent Stuart Rachlin to begin his early retirement effective on June 30, 2011.
Rachlin will continue as full-time superintendent at the until Jan.1, after which he will serve two days a week as part-time superintendent with an interim principal until his contract terminates one year early this coming June 30.
Board members have been discussing Rachlin's early retirement for several months, and many people felt that the vote would be unanimous, and were surprised at the dissenting views on the board.
Tensions were high in the audience, as community members voiced strong opinions about Dr. Rachlin's severance package. A few audience members questioned the board on the lifetime medical benefits that would be in place for Dr. Rachlin and his wife after his leave from the school, and another man stated that it was unfair to give such a package suggesting that if Rachlin wanted to leave the school it should be a "clean and final cut".
Various individuals complained that Rachlins severance pay was excessive in what they felt were difficult financial times.
Although board members declined to directly answer any questions Tuesday night, they did make statements about their feelings on the early retirement motion.
Board president Deborah Dumont stated that although she understood how Rachlin's severance package seemed expensive and excessive, she felt that she needed to put the needs of the school first. She said that she was voting for Rachlin's early retirement because she felt the need to bring in new leadership to bring the school into a better direction.
"I understand concerns, but I need to move the school forward now," Dumont said.
Board members Thomas Gray, Kathy Syron, and Dorothy Dean Thomas also voted to pass the motion. Both Gray and Syron said that they felt that by doing so they were also helping to move the school in a better direction.
Gray gave a lengthy speech about Rachlin's early retirement, saying that he felt he was "at the end of a big mess." Gray also referenced what he believed was the district's waste of money on legal fees, and paying out on Rachlin's sick and personal time, which is an additional cost of around $30,000.
Board members Krista de Kerillis, Linda Goldsmith, and Walter Strohmeyer voted no on the motion. Strohmeyer told the board that he'd had high hopes for the superintendent to bring the school to a better place, and that his hopes were disappointed. However, he voted against the motion was saying it was "not good for the district."
Oysterponds has plans to employ a full-time principal and a part-time superintendent in the near future.
Oysterpond's board members have had with the past two superintendents, and one member of the audience stated that she hoped the board would include the community in their search for a new principal, to help prevent future expensive losses to the school.