The cash-strapped John Swett school district will pay almost $60,000 to outgoing Superintendent Michael Roth and provide him and his wife with health benefits for 51/2 years, according to an agreement outlining the terms of Roth's departure obtained by the Times.

Roth, a 14-year district employee, will receive the equivalent of five months' pay totaling $53,790 after his June 30 departure from the district, according to the settlement. That reflects a 3.42 percent increase to his $124,000 salary retroactive to July 2007, which also is part of the agreement. In addition, Roth will receive the raise for the previous year in a lump sum totaling about $5,000.

Roth, 59, and his wife also will receive health, dental and vision coverage "as if he were a regular employee of the district until age 65," the contract states.

The agreement, announced at last week's school board meeting by board President Bill Concannon, ends almost a year of unspecified disputes between the nine-year superintendent and the board. Citing a stipulation that requires both parties to "maintain in confidence any and all discussions, negotiations, and events connected with the negotiation and execution" of the agreement, neither Concannon nor Roth would comment on the settlement.

"It's time for me to move on," Roth said this week. "It's done; we're not going to discuss it."


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The agreement, signed by Roth, Concannon and board Secretary Brian Colombo on May 7, supersedes Roth's previous contract, which ran through June 2009.

"I am relieved to have this matter behind us and to have reached an amicable settlement between the district and the superintendent," Concannon said in an e-mail this week.

Roth has led the 1,700-student district that oversees John Swett High and Carquinez Middle schools in Crockett and Rodeo Hills Elementary in Rodeo since 1999. He started with the district in 1994 as a vice principal at Carquinez, and he was named principal there in 1995.

Roth enjoyed a decent working relationship with board members for most of his tenure, but things turned frosty last year after questions arose over whether Roth, against the board's directive, inserted pay raises into Business Manager Bryan Richards' contract.

Board members acknowledged that they did not see a final copy of the contract before approving it. The Times found a gap on the 2005 audio cassette recording of the meeting — the only official record — during which the board initially discussed the matter.

Roth's 2007 evaluation was never completed because of the dispute.

The May 7 settlement agreement calls for board members to remove two letters dated Dec. 5, 2007, from Roth's personnel file. Neither Concannon nor Roth would discuss the letters and whether they're related to the Richards contract dispute, or whether the dispute led to Roth's departure.

Roth's payout comes as the district grapples with severe budget cuts. Board members recently authorized the layoff of several teachers and other employees to slice hundreds of thousands from its approximately $13 million budget.

Richards, who oversees the district's finances, said the payout will come from next year's operating budget, and no further cuts are planned to offset the agreement.

Richards said staff has not finalized the budget, and the additional costs will be included as expenditures.

Roth said this week that he's proud of his achievements since taking leadership of the district, including helping to maintain solvency and increasing student learning amid changing educational standards imposed at the state and federal levels.

He's also proud of John Swett High School's career academy, which he had a hand in, and securing millions in funding through the sale of Hillcrest Elementary School to be used for upgrading the district's other schools.

District officials are in the beginning stages of implementing renovations at John Swett and Willow alternative high schools and Carquinez Middle.

Roth said he's unsure of what he'll do next.

"Holding the position of superintendent of a school district is an honor," Roth said. "And I'm happy to have done that."

The board will discuss the process for replacing Roth at Wednesday's board meeting.

"We're going to take a lot of input and do as thorough of a search as we can," Colombo said. "We're going to need somebody with a lot of energy because there's a lot of things going on."

Reach Kimberly S. Wetzel at 510-262-2798 or at kwetzel@bayareanewsgroup.com.