IDAHO FALLS — Outgoing Bonneville School District superintendent Chuck Shackett will receive a payout of up to $205,000 to his state retirement account, as part of a “separation agreement” with the board of trustees.
Idaho Education News obtained the agreement between Shackett and the district Monday after making a public records request last week. The three-page document includes previously unknown details surrounding Shackett’s forthcoming resignation, including the six-figure payout to the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho to help Shackett retire with full state benefits by Aug. 31, 2019.
Shackett last week announced his plans to retire, initially telling Idaho Ed News that he would be eligible for full PERSI retirement benefits at the end of the 2018-19 school year.
But after being pressed about details surrounding his departure, Shackett acknowledged the existence of the separation agreement between him and the district. Shackett initially said the agreement provided an added two months to his current employment contract, which would enable him to continue working as a paid “consultant” to the incoming superintendent until Aug. 31, 2019, costing the district some $26,000.
Shackett said he needed the extra two months of employment to qualify for full PERSI retirement benefits — contrary to what he had originally told Idaho Education News. He said nothing at that time about the up to $205,000 PERSI payout outlined in the agreement.
The district last week denied a public records request for the agreement, claiming the document contained portions of Shackett’s annual performance evaluation and was therefore exempt from public records requests. The agreement designates itself as part of the superintendent’s “personnel file” and therefore “exempt” from public records requests.
Idaho Ed News responded with a request for a copy redacting personnel information in an effort to make public taxpayers’ financial obligation. Shackett said Monday he would provide the public with copies of the agreement.
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“I failed to mention more details about the separation agreement,” Shackett said Monday, adding that he worried that the lack of transparency surrounding the agreement could negatively impact the district’s upcoming Aug. 28 request to renew its $5.8 million-a-year supplemental levy.
Bonneville School Board chairman Paul Jenkins also expressed worry over the timing.
“If we don’t pass (the supplemental levy), I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the school board approved up to $205,000 for Shackett, but added that the amount could fluctuate between now and when Shackett officially puts in for PERSI. As of July 18, Shackett needed a contribution of up to $203,772.29 to receive his full state retirement benefits.
Despite acknowledging periodic contention between Shackett and some trustees over recent months, Jenkins expressed regret at Shackett’s looming departure.
“I’d keep him if I could,” Jenkins said.
Shackett will turn 62 in September. He can retire on Aug. 31 without a reduction to his pension. He makes $156,029, which ranks among the top five highest paid superintendents in the state.
Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.