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Contract limits school board's severance liability

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New Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Superintendent Catherine Edmonds was introduced to school staff, faculty and residents in the auditorium at Sheep-Harney Elementary School, Monday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The contract between the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education and Superintendent-elect Catherine Edmonds limits the board’s severance liability in a way that would prevent a large payout like the one awarded to the district’s previous superintendent.

The board’s contract with Edmonds, who currently is superintendent of the Bertie County Schools and will start as superintendent of ECPPS July 1, states the severance pay provided for termination without cause is “the aggregate salary and local supplement she would have earned under this Agreement for a six-month period from the actual date of termination.”

By contrast, the board’s contract with former Superintendent Larry Cartner provided that in the event of his discharge without cause he would be entitled to severance pay consisting of “all of the aggregate salary and local supplement plus benefits he would have received ... from the actual date of termination” to when the contract actually ended. Because of that wording, the ECPPS board ended up paying Cartner a negotiated settlement of more than $300,000.

Asked Tuesday about the limited severance liability in the contract with Edmonds, Chairwoman Sharon Warden said the school board sought to be responsible in the contract negotiation and do what was best for the community and the school district.

“When we were working on the contract we were looking at trying to do what was best for the community and for our district,” Warden said. “The board was just being very responsible and cognizant of our responsibility when it comes to contract negotiations. We just wanted do what was best for the community and for our district.”

The contract with Edmonds runs from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2022. Her state-paid salary, according to the contract, will be at “the maximum amount to which superintendent is eligible based on her qualifications and classification under the State Salary Schedule for Superintendents ... including the applicable supplement for her doctoral degree.” The language is similar to that in the board’s former contract with Cartner.

Based on the most recent salary schedule available from the state, Edmonds’ state salary would be $128,676. The contract also calls for a $25,000 local salary supplement, which would bring her total salary to $153,676.

The local supplement is $10,000 less than what the district paid Cartner under his contract.

The contract also allows Edmonds to receive an annual longevity payment and her medical insurance coverage will be provided under terms similar to other district employees.

The district will also pay Edmonds a travel allowance of $500 a month for travel within Pasquotank County. She will have the right to use a district-owned vehicle for job-related travel outside of Pasquotank County.

Edmonds will be reimbursed for travel outside the “Albemarle Region”(Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties) at half of the state reimbursement rate if a district vehicle is available and at the full rate if a district vehicle is not available.

Edmonds’ contract requires her to relocate to Pasquotank County within 90 days, and to live here while she serves as superintendent. It also reimburses her for relocation expenses up to $5,000.

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