At their regular meeting on Wednesday, May 17, the New Paltz Central School District Board of Education passed a resolution to accept the resignation of schools Superintendent Maria Rice for the purpose of retirement, effective June 28. The board then passed a resolution to re-hire Maria Rice as schools superintendent of the New Paltz district effective June 30. That appointment will end June 30, 2021.
“The board and I agreed that I would be re-employed as superintendent of schools during the time of my retirement from the New York Teachers’ retirement system,” Rice wrote in an e-mail response to a request for comment. “This is a typical practice which results in a cost savings to the district in salary, retirement system contributions and health insurance.”
Requests for the dollar amount of the new salary and pension made to Rice, the school board president and clerk on Monday were not answered in time for this article.
There are, indeed, numerous examples across the country of retiring school superintendents being rehired within days of retirement with a pension. Critics consider the practice to be “double-dipping,” a way to game the system by drawing a taxpayer-funded salary at the same time as a pension. Supporters of the practice say that schools would have to replace a retiring superintendent with someone less experienced, and would pay more into that new employee’s state pension fund and for their health care benefits.
Requests to the state education department for clarification on their position regarding school superintendents retiring and then being rehired by the same district within days went unanswered.
The New Paltz BOE will meet again on Wednesday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at the high school. Public comment is taken at the beginning and end of each meeting.
The annual school board reorganization meeting is slated for Wednesday, July 12 at 7 p.m. in the conference room at the district offices, located at 1 Eugene Brown Drive.