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Senate Approves Turner Bill To Protect Taxpayers From Ripoffs By Retiring School Officials

TRENTON – The Senate today voted 38-0 to give final approval to a bill, S-2160/A-2975, sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, to eliminate the huge compensation packages awarded by school boards to retiring school administrators.

“These rip-offs are nothing less than obscene sendoffs to school administrators at taxpayers’ expense,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Under this bill, these abuses of educational authority will be stopped dead in their tracks.”

Senator Turner said public outrage over the retirement package of more than $740,000 awarded to the retiring Keansburg school superintendent led to a state probe which revealed that more than 30 school administrators statewide are due six-figure bonuses for leaving their jobs.

“It’s an unconscionable abuse of authority for local school boards to be signing off on taxpayer funded payouts for school administrators above and beyond their pension benefits,” Senator Turner said. “This bill will limit severance pay for retiring school administrators to accumulated sick days and vacation leave.”

Senator Turner said she felt compelled to advance spending restraints on local school boards when it was revealed that in the Keansburg controversy, the outgoing school superintendent, with over 30 years in the district, was approved to receive a bonus of one month’s pay for every year she worked.

“We have to dissolve this arrogance, this brazen sense of entitlement in certain segments of the educational community, that they can just bestow whatever amounts of taxpayers’ money they choose for favored administrators,” Senator Turner said.

Legislation enacted earlier this year already required approval by executive county school superintendents of retirement packages for superintendents, assistant superintendents and school business administrators while mandating public disclosure of their provisions, Senator Turner noted.

“For years, these contracts were cloaked in secrecy and justified as non-debatable ‘personnel issues,’” Senator Turner said. “Now we realize how frequently this secrecy was just a mask for taxpayer abuses.”

But her bill approved today would strictly prohibit payouts being based on anything other than accrued sick leave and vacation time.

“This bill enables us to strike a blow against greed on behalf of taxpayers,” Senator Turner said.

The bill now awaits enactment by the Governor.

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