Imagine for a moment that you hired someone to paint your house which, because it is SO big will take a year to finish.

In the agreement with your painter, you specify that as long as he stays on the job and paints your house, you will give him a bonus, let’s say, um, $40,000.

But six months into the job, the painter says that he’s going to leave. Maybe he’s moving. Maybe he has found a better job. Maybe he’s retiring.

What do you do? Of course, you have to start looking around for a new painter right away, no? Of course you do. And because the painter has told you he’s going to leave, you stop paying him that money to stay, right?

Of course you do.

That’s how it works in the private sector. But in the public sector, specifically in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (N-MUSD), it doesn’t work that way.

In the N-MUSD, you do something outrageous such as pay someone not to retire and you take this action with the minimum amount of public notice – only that which you are legally required to do.

Then, when the person you are paying not to retire gives you eight months’ notice, you:

a) Wait five months before making a public announcement and starting the replacement process

b) Continue to pay the person you were paying not to retire, even though he is retiring.

Sounds incredible, huh? Yes, but that is what happened with your tax dollars and with the superintendent.

The money paid to Paul Reed not to retire is old news. You can read about it and the separate fund that was created around it by clicking HERE.

What has not received much publicity is the fact that at the State of the Schools breakfast last September, Supt. Frederick Navarro told those in attendance that Reed informed him in April that he would be retiring at the end of the year.

So, what did Navarro do? Did he immediately run over to payroll and save thousands of your tax dollars by canceling the “don’t retire” payments? Nope. Did he immediately start the process of finding a replacement? Nope.

Instead, the district continued to pay Reed not to retire, even though he said he was retiring. Through Reed’s 1-year contract period ending June 16, 2016, he was paid  $40,415.55. And he was paid on a pro-rated basis for the period from June to December, 2016.

On his blog, which you can read HERE, former N-MUSD HR head John Caldecott points out that “…Reed’s contract says the he is paid this incentive for each YEAR of service. There is no contract provision to prorate this amount and Reed did not complete his contract year. There is no contractual basis to pay Reed $20,207 as half of the incentive to delay retirement.”

In other words, even though the N-MUSD had a solid legal basis upon which to stop paying into Reed’s “don’t retire” incentive, they paid him with your tax dollars anyway.

Why? Because it was the fiscally irresponsible thing to do.

OBTW, I’m a pretty good painter. If you know anyone who needs a painter and is willing to pay me extra just to stay on the job, please let me know.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

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