Thursday, April 30, 2009

More details trickle out on the Mercer departure

While the recent departure of Superintendent Eric Mercer hasn't really resonated much on the radar of the local media, the Vancouver Sun has been tenacious in its bid to learn more about why a school district would remove its Superintendent in the middle of the school year.

The latest installment of the Mercer Chronicles, has Vancouver Sun Education reporter Janet Steffenhagen receiving the details of her recent Freedom of Information request, providing some idea of the cost of replacing the superintendent in February after the mutually agreed departure between Mr. Mercer and School District 52.

The FOI details outlined further the severance package for Mr. Mercer, who in addition to the payment of $144,802 described as a "retiring allowance", was allowed to keep a Blackberry and a lap top computer kind of a parting gift we guess. And with the departure in place should anyone ask, the terms of the departure were that "anyone seeking a reference in future will be given only the media release that says his departure was a result of a mutual agreement."
It makes for a serious bit of bureaucratic speak, that doesn't really offer up much in the way of explanation as to what transpired to result in the replacement of the Superintendent in the middle of the year.

The cost of a temporary replacement, wasn't quite as expensive, but still Dave Stigant who is filling in for the remainder of the school year will be compensated more than adequately. The FOI revelations outlined that his contract for services calls for $52,083 for his five months salary as acting superintendent , he will receive a $5,000 living allowance, a $1,500 moving allowance, $350 per month car allowance, seven days of sick leave and 15 days paid vacation. His contract started on March 1 and runs until July 31, 2009.

Also in the Freedom of Information request, but an item which didn't furnish quite as much detail was an inquiry as to the status of Gary Doi in the process of Mr. Mercer's departure and the subsequent hirings of Mr. Stigant and that of the full time superintendent, Lynn Hauptman set to start work with the new school year in September.

The School District provided little in the way of background detail for Ms. Steffenhagen's request on Mr. Doi's input on the situation, leaving the reporter to wonder aloud if Mr. Doi was compensated in any form for his efforts, or whether he provided his services under contract or on an informal basis.
Her interest and subsequent questions on that item arose after a quote by School Board chair Tina Last, which suggested that the Board turned to Mr. Doi in a consultative role to help assist the board in the events of the last few months.

The sense you get from the latest of articles posted to the Sun's Education blog Report Card, is that there are still many questions that need to be answered and it would seem that at least with the Vancouver Sun, those issues still warrant further study and clarification.

It will be interesting to see if the local media pick up on the latest details and perhaps seek out some of the answers to the questions that have been offered up on the Sun's education blog. With over 200 thousand dollars spent thus far on salaries and with little in the way of explanation why, they are questions that local residents may also wish to seek out details on.

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