DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A suburban Philadelphia school district approved a severance package that officials said totaled more than $700,000 for the outgoing superintendent over the strong objections from opponents and weeks before a new board is scheduled to take control.
Central Bucks School Board members with a GOP majority in charge for perhaps the last time before Democrats take control next month voted 6-3 Tuesday along party lines in favor of the package for Abram Lucabaugh, whose sudden resignation was accepted as taking effect the same day, the Bucks County Courier Times reported.
Before the vote, the still-minority Democrat board members criticized the last-minute package. Outgoing member Tabitha DellAngelo called it “a very insulting contract to the taxpayers.” Member Karen Smith, who also voted no, said a law firm had sent a letter urging the board to reject the deal as “improperly” binding the successor board to be organized Dec. 4.
Lucabaugh, who did not attend the meeting, received a salary bump in July to $315,000 per year, which boosted severance benefits such as unused vacation and sick time. CEO Tara Houser told the board that the severance package, which includes $39,000 in taxes the district must cover, exceeds $712,000.
Board president Dana Hunter said Democrats who swept last week’s elections had been planning to fire Lucabaugh, and that would have cost the district much more. Hunter, who lost her seat in the election, called the package “the best thing” not only for the district financially but for Lucabaugh, who she said “has done right by us.”
Several hundred people, some bearing signs, attended the nearly three-hour meeting. Some spoke out against the package to loud applause, calling it “an embarrassment” or “a shady deal,” and saying the superintendent can choose to resign but shouldn’t be paid for leaving.