Four high-ranking Oklahoma City school district administrators will be paid thousands in exchange for their resignations, documents obtained by The Oklahoman show.
School district officials point to a leaner structure and hundreds of thousands of dollars in yearly savings.
Deputy Superintendent Sandra Park will collect $93,677 in severance pay and benefits; Chief Academic Officer Cindy Schmidt will receive $73,236; and Executive Director of Communications Kathleen Kennedy will be paid $51,330, according to resignation agreements signed Feb. 5 by interim Superintendent Dave Lopez.
The resignations of Park, Schmidt and Kennedy are effective Saturday. Their payments are due Feb. 28, documents show.
Senior Facilities Officer Terry Wolfe will be placed on administrative leave with pay until June 15, documents show.
Lopez recommended eliminating the positions as part of a district reorganization plan to improve academic accountability. The school board voted Feb. 3 to accept the resignations of the four executives and eliminate their positions.
A yearly savings from the eliminated positions will total more than $640,000 in salaries and approximately $140,000 in benefits. These funds will be redirected to fill vacant and new positions that will better serve students in the classroom and support principals and teachers at school sites.
“This leaner structure provides immediate benefits and will provide the incoming superintendent flexibility while he or she determines long-term structure plans,” Lopez said.
A fifth position — chief operations officer — also was eliminated. It went unfilled after Jim Burkey retired in September.
Lopez said Tuesday the positions were eliminated based on a need to streamline district operations and not on job performance, adding that all four employees are welcome to reapply for district employment.
“I think each of those individuals have had dedicated service with the district, which we appreciate,” he said. “Nonetheless, we have to be more efficient and effective and so change was required.”
Park, Schmidt and Kennedy agreed to lump sum payments that will include four months of severance pay that includes salary and transition expenses as well as accrued benefits.
Park will receive $50,985 in salary as severance, $35,783 for unused vacation, $2,467 for unused personal time, $1,940 in unused sick leave and $2,500 for transition expenses for a total of $93,677. She earns $153,012 annually.
Schmidt will receive $42,919 in salary as severance, $25,448 for unused vacation, $1,298 for unused personal time, $1,070 in unused sick pay and $2,500 for transition expenses for a total of $73,236. She earns $128,806 annually.
The district agreed to pay Kennedy $35,984 in salary as severance, $11,756 for unused vacation, $1,088 for unused personal time and $2,500 for transition expenses for a total of $51,330. She earns $107,993 annually.
Wolfe will remain employed by the district for another four months to extend his retirement benefits and not interrupt health care, Lopez said.
Additionally, Wolfe will collect $23,405 in unused vacation pay, personal time and sick leave when his resignation becomes official June 15, according to his agreement. He earns $112,319 annually.
Under the reorganization plan, seven people would report directly to Lopez, including Tamie Sanders, the district's executive director of secondary education and Pat Watson-Hunt, the executive director of elementary education, and a new position — director of logistics — to oversee facilities maintenance, transportation and food service vendor contracts.