CONCORD -- After months of haggling over proposed settlements for former Superintendent Steven Lawrence and General Counsel Greg Rolen -- both let go with more than a year left on their contracts -- the Mt. Diablo school board voted to send the pair termination letters and be done with it.
"We just decided to do what we could do by contract," board President Cheryl Hansen said Tuesday. "We decided that would be the most straightforward, because we were going back and forth there for a couple of months. So now it's finished. There are going to be no separation agreements. Those letters replace everything."
Hansen reported during Monday's board meeting that trustees made the unanimous decision in closed session June 17. She sent letters June 19 to Lawrence and Rolen informing them their employment with the district officially ends Friday.
Both letters say the board is invoking its right to terminate the men without cause and that they each will be paid one-half of the compensation they would have received if they had worked through the end of their contracts to June 30, 2014, along with benefits. Lawrence is required to seek similar work within a 150-mile radius and could receive less money if he finds it.
Last year, Lawrence received about $271,480 in salary and benefits while Rolen received $216,184. The cost to pay each of them for six months could run about $243,832.
Lawrence and Rolen have been on administrative leave since the board voted to terminate their contracts in April. Trustees have already hired an interim general counsel and interim superintendent and are working toward having a permanent superintendent on board in September.
The letters did not include many other items that were discussed as part of the settlements. Those included a clause that said neither party could make disparaging comments about the other and a letter of recommendation for Rolen.
In other business, the board approved its 2013-14 budget of about $269 million Monday, which showed an operating deficit of nearly $6.2 million to be covered by reserves. The district estimates its reserves will dwindle to about $159,000 by June 2016, in part due to an $11.3 million deficit in 2015-16 and the need to set aside more money because of declining enrollment.
Local One clerical union representative Debbie Hickey said contract negotiations have stalled despite the state's budget deal, which promises more money for schools.
"It is our intent to ask you to please give your negotiating team the right to talk to us in regards to money," she said, "because that's our biggest thing."
Also on Monday, trustees appointed Chris Holleran as a school support administrator and approved the hiring of seven employees to help install technology equipment with Measure C construction funds.
Additional details about the meeting are available by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4000 or by visiting http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us. Click on June 24.
The district's Budget Advisory Committee will further discuss the budget at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.