MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (6/11/13) – There now remains less than three weeks before Muhlenberg Superintendent of Education Dale Todd leaves the position he has held for 12 years.
Todd spoke with SurfKY News reporters to clarify what he felt were possible “misconceptions” on his departure, and to offer his thoughts on what has transpired since the announcement of his retirement in April.
Todd said that he "hopes the public will be more diligent in closely watching the progress that is made by the board, especially with so many complicated ongoing projects in the works."
Todd told reporters that, "I feel that the board's meeting held Thursday, June 6th, 2013, with little notice to the public was highly unusual. I learned of the special meeting when I received an email from my secretary, who had received the meeting notice from Chairman Richey. I personally did not see anything on that agenda that could not have been addressed at our regular meeting on Monday, June 10th."
At that meeting interim Superintendent Ronald H Fentress was introduced to those in attendance, but was not officially hired until Monday's meeting, just five days later.
According to Todd, his surprise retirement came after the board hired a special council to go over his contract, phone records, expenses and other items. Todd said, "If anything illegal or unethical had been discovered regarding my use of funds or other activities, I would not have received a contract buyout. The board would have released me from my contract immediately and they would have been required by law to turn the investigation over to the proper authorities. It was obvious this board wanted someone else as superintendent, so it was in the best interest of this district for me to accept the contract buyout and move on."
Todd remarked that, "My biggest concern, since the hiring of the special council in January at taxpayers' expense, has been the distractions within the district and very few key decisions have been made as far as students, and moving the district forward in a timely fashion."
Todd said that "after my more than 36 years with the district, my key concern is what direction the board is going to go to give children a better education. I have sat in board meetings since January and heard several negative comments about decisions made by previous boards. I would rather focus on the future than the past. But to this point this board has not shared with me their vision or plan to make education better Muhlenberg County."
Todd continued saying that he "made an offer to the board in late April after they had determined a time line for the hiring of the new superintendent. My concern was only to allow taxpayers to avoid having to pay my severance pay, along with $15,000.00 to $30,000.00 to someone who will very likely only be in the position for about a month or so." Todd stressed.
"I offered to back my retirement date to July 31st, and the reason was only to save the district money, since I'm already being paid for that period. I could have just worked through that month," he noted.
A board spokesman has verified that they do plan to hire a new superintendent on August 1st, 2013.
"I just thought it was most important to avoid paying three superintendents over a 31 day period. Not to mention that the month of July is always the busiest month. I thought that was a logical option. It would also save some time for the board so they could concentrate on hiring a new superintendent. No one responded to my offer other than board member Adcock, who supported my offer to save money and eliminate the need for an interim superintendent. I just want a smooth transition. The amount of distractions district-wide has been enormous since January, when the investigation of me was ongoing. This entire situation has prompted a lot of anxiety and concern among other administrators within the district. Several have voiced concerns to me about this board's perception of their performance, and if their jobs are safe. I feel they are anxious to know who the new superintendent will be and look forward to putting all this distraction behind them." Todd said.
"I've tried to think of the district as a whole, so this change would cause as few distractions as possible. I just want to go out quietly and hopefully the district will continue to grow. My greatest concern is that once the new Superintendent is hired, that he or she will be allowed to conduct the day-to-day operations that they are hired to do. Hopefully the amount of micro-managing by the board will be minimal. I also hope that there will be a mutual respect between the board and the Superintendent so that they can work together. That obviously has not occurred in the last few months. The majority of the board and I have been at odds on a lot of decisions being made," Todd said.
"Again, I want to stress that I hope the public watches closely the progress that is made, noting there are many complicated undercurrents in managing a budget of 55 to 60 million dollars a year." Todd noted.
"I am also totally baffled by the board's recommendation at the special called meeting on June 6th that a new position of Assistant Superintendent will be posted, against my recommendation. You are talking about a position that will cost taxpayers $90,000.00 to $100,000.00 a year. I feel they should let the new Superintendent determine what additional administrative staff he or she might need. Whoever is selected as the new Superintendent may not feel the need to create a position for an Assistant Superintendent. We currently have that job posted but do not have a job description or a list of duties that person would be responsible for." Todd continued.
"I want the future to be bright for this district and especially for our students. I wish the board and the entire district the best in the days ahead.”
Disclaimer: Surfky.com News Group would like to emphasize the opinions expressed in the this exclusive interview are solely those of Superintendent Todd, and we would like to invite any comments by board members in response to Superintendent Todd's statements.
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