Clayton Schools Chief Can Be off Work Almost Half the Time

Megan Matteucci, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 29, 2008

Clayton County’s new superintendent can spend almost half of his 14-month contract not working and still get paid.

John W. Thompson’s contract grants him the option to spend 107 of his 240 workdays—45 percent—on vacation, holiday or doing consulting work.

Thompson, who started work Monday, is tasked with meeting the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Sept. 1 deadline to overhaul the district or lose accreditation.

But that deadline is going to be awfully tight given Thompson’s contract, said James E. Bostic Jr., a state board of education member appointed by the governor to help Clayton schools.

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Clayton is paying Thompson $285,000 a year—or $1,187.50 a day.

Bostic and fellow governor’s liaison William “Brad” Bryant have said Thompson is not capable of saving Clayton’s accreditation. The president of SACS has said the same thing.

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Thompson’s contract grants him the perks of all Clayton County administrators: 20 paid days like winter break, 15 holidays and 18 vacation days.

But unlike other Clayton school administrators and past superintendents, Thompson also has 30 additional paid vacation days and two paid days a month to do consulting work outside the district.

That special consulting time does not include the time Thompson can attend educational conferences across the nation. Under the contract, he doesn’t have to use vacation time for that.

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The $285,000 salary is lower than what Thompson requested, Hopson told the board. But when other benefits are added in, the contract is costing the district about $400,000.

Thompson gets $2,000 a month for housing and $28,500 in a tax-sheltered annuity.

On July 1, Thompson will get a raise. He will get the same percentage rate as the highest group of certified school employees. That means if teachers get a 4 percent raise and paraprofessionals get a 6 percent raise, Thompson will get the 6 percent raise.

That’s in addition to use of a car and security, if needed.

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Thompson will be paid a lump check when he leaves for any unused time, which is another way to bump up his salary, said Sid Chapman, president of Clayton’s largest teachers’ union.

Chapman said he has been flooded with calls from teachers concerned about Thompson’s salary, time off and “unrestricted” powers, which allow him to supersede board policies. The union has requested a meeting with Thompson, but not received a response.

“It seems like a great deal of money and time off, especially since he didn’t seem to have a plan,” said Chapman, who represents about 2,800 teachers.

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Corporations routinely pay high price tags for executives to rescue troubled companies, including lofty stock packages, cars and other options.

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schools

Workaholic John W. Thompson

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