LEE COUNTY, Fla. - New fallout after word that Lee County School Superintendent Dr. James Browder will get more than $300,000 for leaving the district.
Dr. Browder's contract with the School Board was re-negotiated in 2008 to include a severance package if either party cut ties in the four-year deal. Now, as he's looking to end things early, we're learning he'll get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to pack up.
The latest contract states Browder's entitled to two years pay if either the School Board, or he, ends his superintendent run.
At his current salary of close to $168,000 a year that means with fees, Browder will get paid out $342,000 to leave Lee County Schools.
"Right now, our teachers are out there, using their own money to buy supplies. How do you justify that $340,000 golden parachute?" said former Lee County School Board member Bob Chilmonik.
Chilmonik voted against the severance payment back in 2008. He says the deal was sprung on the school board, and quickly ok-ed.
"It was shocking. It was shocking when it happened back in 2008, it's coming back to haunt us now," Chilmonik said Tuesday.
Severance packages are used to protect school systems from pricey legal fees. But at a time when schools are running on bare-bones budgets, the farewell funds come with mixed reaction.
"There are going to be some teachers that feel okay, it was his contract, he negotiated it fairly, it was approved and ratified. Then there's going to be others that feel that he shouldn't be walking away with this money," said Donna Muntzenard of the Teachers Association of Lee County.
Browder's contract doesn't specify how the money will be paid out, but either way Chilmonik says it's a hard pill to swallow.
"There are a lot of government jobs here in Lee County that have been cut. What would you think about it? It's simply unacceptable. It's bad for morale," Chilmonik said.
WINK News tried to contact Dr. Browder and School Board members voting in favor of the severance payment. Our calls were not returned.
Lee County School Board will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss Dr. Browder's move. It's unknown at this point whether the newly-elected School Board or the current one will select Browder's replacement. The meeting is open to the public. It's being held at 3:30 at the Lee County Public Education Center off Colonial Boulevard.