$291k to Griffin; Thompson Takes Over

Charlottesville superintendent Scottie Griffin is being paid $291k to stop being superintendent, James Fernald reports in today’s Daily Progress. That’s $19k in benefits, $15k for her attorney, $7k for moving expenses, and $250k to go away. If all goes well, that should end the 11-month-long Scottie Griffin saga.

Also at last night’s school board meeting, assistant superintendent for administration Bobby Thompson was named acting superintendent — he’ll step up on July 1, the day after Griffin’s time ends.

12 thoughts on “$291k to Griffin; Thompson Takes Over”

  1. I think that’s an absolutely disgusting amount of money to spend. This sort of waste in education spending is why people should be opposed to additional funding of the public school systems when ever the issue arises. And it’s another reason a clean sweep should be made of the entire school board.

  2. Every school board member should be held accountable for this irresponsible spending.

    What’s most offensive was their lack of respect to inform the public of their deliberations when they were needed most. While VA law permits such closed-door confidential meetings, the school board should have made every effort to hold press conferences at least to inform what steps were being taken.

    Instead, we had reporters attacking board members for information or reports of “no comment” from school board members. There must be accountability and it begins with a new school board. Every effort should be made to bar Incumbent Peggy Van Yahres from regaining her seat on the board. But it seems to be clear she has a pretty tight relationship with Mayor David Brown. According to reports from several media outlets, both worked closely to bring about the schools advisory commission: just another committee to bury blame for an awful year.

  3. At what point is City Council going to be called upon to be accountable for having appointed this seemingly dysfunctional and irresponsible board? As long as they continue to advocate against an elected school board, they need to step up and accept full responsibility for this entire fiasco.

  4. I’m very concerned about the repeated imprecision when blaming “this board”. “This board” began the same time Dr Griffin did. It was the previous board that hired Dr Griffin. If we voting types can’t bother to keep track of where accurately to lay the responsibility it truly argues against electing the school board.

  5. Please, by all means, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the “old” board consist of Smith, Gronlund, Igbani, Wiggins, Brown, Van Yahres and Linda Bowen? With the exception of Ned Michie, who replaced outgoing chair Linda Bowen, it is almost entirely the same board. I think you might be splitting too fine a hair on this particular point.

  6. Although there were current board members on the “old board” we would be in bigger trouble if it weren’t for Van Yahres and Michie. They may have acted late but at least they acted.
    As for all the money- it will start a legacy. If I left and went to the county now my salary would be 5,000 more in the next 2-3 years then I would make in Cville. Glad Griffin got her money, I feel as though one of her legacies will be the pain I feel in my own pocketbook.

  7. There is no glory in being a martyr or nobility in suffering quietly, nor should there be. When something is wrong it should be addressed and fixed. As for legacies there is already a perception of waste in education spending, this further perpetuates that.

  8. Griffin’s buy out was only $300,000! Really that’s very small when you look at the big picture of the past 6 years. It all started in 1997. The principal at Buford spent $10,000 on new office furniture in 1999, just for her office! Josiah Haig, 97 – 98, made tens of thousands while doing very little, Dr. Symon spent more time at Hilton Head…heck he didn’t even own a home in C’ville his last year as Sup’t. Don’t forget Ardee’s nearly $200,000 in salary and benefits this past year and she didn’t work one day.
    An independent city school system as been very expensive pretense the past 7 or 8 years. Bobby Thompson is the first positive move in over 16 years !
    It is past time for an elected school! It is time to look at merging the city and the county schools. We are the Charlottesville/Albemarle Community!!!
    Oh, and “Teachville”, when I left the city schools 5 years ago, I took a $5000 pay cut to go to the county and I lost 30 sick days …but I am an educator, not a baby sitter!

  9. This was the price of getting rid of a real problem – it is a small price to pay for ridding the system of a nightmare. The ultimate cost of keeping her would have been much, much larger. Although I think Elizabeth is wrong – there is no substantive difference between the current board and the previous one (Linda Bowen is only one person) – I also think it’s wrong to attack the board for everything it does – ‘coming and going’. A buyout was the price of getting rid of Griffin. The costs of waiting were going to be much greater:

    – untold damage to the system in terms of ‘morale’ and lost educators.
    – legal fees from ongoing Griffin-induced problems.
    – continuing to pay her salary so long as she was here.

    At some point you just have to recognize it’s time to cut your losses and get away from a bad situation – yes, writing the check hurts, but not as much as it would have hurt had she remained. The board is to be applauded for finally doing the right thing.

    I am delighted that Thompson is in charge – I think Ivory was a Griffin stooge. Thompson is not the right man to lead the division long-term, nor do I think he has the aspiration to do so, but he will stanch the hemmoraging. He is not so strong as Hutchinson was, and so the temptation to drag things out will not be there for the board.

    A lot has been made of the “open-ness” of the process, and the counter-veiling benefits of an open process and a closed process:

    – the need for the community to feel informed and get comfortable with the selection.


    – the need for total discretion in order to get the best applicants to consider applying.

    It seems to me that if the VASB has gotten involved, after having their demands for the latter met, they will do better with overcoming much of the local political hack-ery in selecting a solid candidate on the merits rather than on the basis of local popularity contests among local political groups. This alone will force a bit more responsible behavior out of the board.

    I also think the former can be acheived, substantively, by assuring the public that the candidates are being investigated and vetted by an independent body/process (ie, not the same outfit trying to ‘sell’ the candidate to the local system). This could be anything from a second recruiting agency to the local police dept. There was clearly an oversight failure in this with Griffin – there were just way too many red flags around her. If the board knew of and ignored those red flags, then they deserve to be tossed out and castigated; if not, as some protest (and I generally believe), then they probably just deserve to be replaced for incompetence.

    Without a doubt, if we’re going to move away from a popular process, though, to one where we ‘trust the judgment of our representatives’ on the school board (ie, a little-r republican approach), then we need an elected school board!

    One wonders though, what kind of person will apply here now; it’s clear after:

    – Shannon was bought out.
    – the pre-Hutchinson hiring debacle
    – the Griffin buy-out

    that C’ville is not a happy place, politically, to be super. It’s going to require someone who is either awfully brave or a real masochist to fill this post!

  10. Important points cvillelib. It will be interesting to see what happens and what and if anything was learned by this year. We have already set ourselves up for more trouble with comments from board members about the race of a candidate. Now if someone doesn’t get the job that fits the race that a couple of members said we should have, they can sue too. We just need the best person for the job. One that will also go out to the different community groups and get involved.
    As for Ivory- I thought at first she was a stooge also, but after working with her she knows her stuff. Her hands were tied by her commander. She can still be a great asset to the system.
    Hlamont- my point exactly about the salaries- we are now behind the county and sliding quickly. People need to stop looking at the starting salaries. The county now provides, more pay, different behavior problems, better scores. Come on who are we kidding. The only attraction to teach in the city is the desire to work with the kinds of kids we have- often we are babysitters. I just hope we don’t fall so far behind that it is financially a burden to work here. The commute alone so people can own homes is expensive enough.

  11. Hi Teachcville – Re: Ivory – I have heard comments from others too that she is good – that is good to know. I am still reassured that Bobby Thompson is holding the reins, if for no other reason than his time in the system – people from Buford and CHS know him and he knows the system.

    In regards to the salary issue: my personal peeve has been the very CO-heavy personnel budget – this has waxed and waned (waxed mostly) for the past 15 years. One has to wonder how long the rising costs in both the city and county will allow them to maintain separate systems. IIRC, something over 50% of personnel costs were non-contact.

    Merging the systems would have the salutory effect of undoing, in one bold stroke, the self segregation that has been going on for years with people putting their kids in county schools. When I was in the city schools in the 70s & early 80s there was a healthy ‘middle’ – for one reason or another (not just ‘white flight’) there is now a big hole there. This really would resolve a lot of the test score issues. Guess I’m beating that drum again.

  12. Easy and cheap remedy!
    Merge the two school systems and have an elected schools board.
    Makes sense on every count! Unless you have an city ego or a very tight county pocket book.

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