BALDWINSVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The resignation of Jason Thomson makes the third case in six years of the Baldwinsville School District losing its top administrator before his contract is over and paying out tens of thousands of dollars for no work.
Jason Thomson’s resignation approved Monday by the Baldwinsville Board of Education won’t take effect until June. He’ll be paid until then after having received his normal compensation since being arrested for DWI in October.
NewsChannel 9 did the simple math.
Based on his 2022-2023 salary confirmed by the district, he makes $3,905 per week.
When his resignation is effective on June 30, he’ll have been paid for 38 weeks since the arrest on October 8 and subsequent suspension, totaling $148,390.
The tenure of the prior superintendent ended in a similar fashion.
Matthew McDonald, who had worked for the district years earlier, served as superintendent from April 2016 through his resignation in February 2021.
McDonald, who had taken a “medical leave of absence” in February 2020 and a “personal leave of absence” in November 2021 was paid until June 2021. He was paid for 20 weeks of no work after he submitted his resignation, valuing more than $70,000.
David Hamilton, who immediately preceded McDonald’s tenure, took over for longtime superintendent Jeanne Dangle in 2014.
Hamilton resigned early too, in 2016. The Board of Education cited “philosophical differences,” but paid Hamilton at least $136,000 for the entire year, per his separation agreement obtained by NewsChannel 9. He was entitled to another $87,000 for the first half of 2017 if he didn’t get another job.
Combining the three superintendents’ payouts, taxpayers of the Baldwinsville School District paid more than $350,000 to people who weren’t working.
Kevin Luibrand is an Albany-based attorney who specializes in superintendent contracts.
He said, “I compare superintendent contracts to pro baseball player contracts.”
“They’re pretty much guaranteed,” Luibrand continued. “In order to get someone terminated, it’s a lengthy, complicated procedure that costs a lot of money.”
The attorney explains superintendents who can lead big districts, like Baldwinsville, are in high demand and short supply.
He said: “The contracts are favorable to the superintendents almost always… In order to attract qualified candidates, (districts have to be) generous in the contract terms and compensation packages.”
Despite the displeasure to taxpayers, Luibrand expects the Baldwinsville Board of Education selected the most determinate and most affordable option.
“I suspect the district did some kind of a calculation to determine what it would cost to go through the firing process with a third-party arbitrator and the risks that they might not win that… There might be something less than termination, perhaps a suspension and they decided it was in their best interest to cut their losses, pay some money out, but get the certainty of a termination.”