CEDAR GROVE, Wis. – A Wisconsin principal will be paid his full $91,290 salary for the 2013-14 school year as part of a separation agreement with the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District.

Principal parachutteLarry Theiss, former principal of Cedar Grove-Belgium High School, resigned last month but will continue to collect his salary through the rest of the school year as part of a deal cooked up by superintendent Steve Shaw.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “There was no provision in Theiss’ contract that required payout of the full year’s salary, according to Shaw. However, the school board decided to accept the resignation and pay Theiss through his absence to create ‘an opportunity for both sides to move forward,’ Shaw said.”

Shaw said the school board was discussing not renewing the principal’s employment contract because the high school needed a “change in culture,” the news site reports.

Board members told the Journal Sentinel they voted for the payout based on Shaw’s recommendation.

Shaw contends the move was “right for everybody.”

By everybody, Shaw must mean district bureaucrats and the school board. Logic suggests there are numerous better uses for the money that would benefits students. After all, educating students is why schools exist. Theiss’ buyout likely could cover the salaries of two full-time teachers.

Association of Wisconsin School Administrators Executive Director Jim Lynch told the Journal Sentinel sometimes, despite the hard work of the incumbent, employers want a fresh, new administrator. As a result, school boards will occasionally buy out a contract.

“School boards want to be known as fair employers when someone has given good effort,” he said.

That’s fair enough, but it seems like a two-week severance should suffice. Theiss started his third year at Cedar Grove-Belgium High School this year, but hasn’t worked since he resigned Oct. 15. Since then he’s been taking classes to earn a superintendent’s license, the Journal Sentinel reports.

School officials wouldn’t discuss the details behind the separation, but Shaw did acknowledge teachers didn’t like him.

So to summarize, school officials will pay over $90,000 to a former principal they planned on firing anyway while he works on a superintendent’s license, just to be nice. And it’s all based on the superintendent’s recommendation.

More than anything, the situation calls into question Shaw’s leadership abilities and decision-making. Most reasonable residents would agree that a $90,000 goodbye bonus is not the best stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

The situation begs the question: if Shaw’s throwing around $90,000 like its Monopoly money, what other types of bone-headed spending decisions is the district making?

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