The same day Howard County Superintendent Dr. Renee Foose announced her retirement, a new interim superintendent was in her seat.
Foose may be leaving just one year into a four-year contract but she won't be walking away empty-handed. The Howard County Board of Education agreed to give Foose a nearly $1.65 million separation package.
However, when the separation agreement was signed there was no definitive plan as to where additional money would come from.
During a work session on Wednesday, the County Council asked the Board of Education a series of questions on how they planned to fund the settlement.
“Where’s it coming from? Is it new money? Is it different money? Are we shifting?” asked Howard County Councilman Dr. Calvin Ball.
Last budget season, the school system was forced to make-up a $50 million budget gap. Once again, they’ll need to scramble to find money to pay a superintendent that was at an impasse with the Board of Education.
“There was discord clearly between the Superintendent and the Board,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.
Kittleman helped the two facilitate an agreement on Monday.
“The County Executive of Howard County did not say this is the number we need to do. The County Executive, me, was not in that room. A mediator, me, was in that room trying to help them come up with an agreement that they could both be happy with,” said Kittleman.
He added that he will work with the school system to help them figure out the best way to make it all happen.
A County Council member was not pleased to hear that some of the money could potentially come from the county's general reserve.
“I would hope that the responsibility that the Board has taken on is recognized as their responsibility and it needs to be part of the budget that they have,” said Howard County Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty.
Council Board Chair Jon Weinstein is withholding his opinions until he hears more details about the proposed funding source.
“Could we have done this better? I think we probably could've done a better job in renegotiating her agreement a year ago or so, so now we just look forward,” Weinstein said.
While there’s uncertainty about a funding source, there’s mutual agreement that this needed to happen.
Moving forward is also something Acting Superintendent Michael Martirano believes is important.
“Fifty-six thousand children are counting upon the adults to get along and work on behalf of children. [Let’s] move these things behind us, bring people together, and everybody is welcome at the educational table that I am working around,” Martirano said.
The Howard County Council is set approve the budget on May 24.
According to the separation agreement, Dr. Foose will receive payments over the next four years starting with $225,000 due May 31. She’ll also receive $302,560 on January 15, 2018 through 2020, as well as $514,466 in additional compensation.
Under her original contract, Dr. Foose was receiving a yearly salary of $237,000.