New Plymouth superintendent accepts six-figure buyout

Kevin Barker will be paid more than $450,000 and receive 24 months of full benefits to resign as superintendent of the New Plymouth School District.

Most of the cash will come in a lump sum from a third-party donor, according to a buyout contract signed by Barker and School Board Chairman Dave Brogan.

Brogan would not say on Friday morning who made a $400,000 donation to complete Barker’s contract buyout.

Kevin Barker

Barker resigned Wednesday night following months of turmoil and pressure from the New Plymouth Education Association. Trustees spent three hours in executive session before returning to open meeting to unanimously accept Barker’s resignation.

The resignation contract was released Friday morning to Idaho Education News following a public records request.

Barker said in a statement through his attorney that he entered into a “favorable agreement” with the board.

According the five-page contract, Barker will receive the following:

  • A $400,000 lump sum, coming from a private donation designed to encourage him to step down.
  • His regular salary, through his June 30 resignation date. Barker receives $89,849 per year as superintendent.
  • A $1,500-a-month consulting fee, from July 1 through June 30, 2020. During this time, Barker will receive retirement contributions, life insurance benefits and the cost of full family health insurance.

As consultant, Barker will only need to respond to inquiries from the board. He is not required to step onto school grounds or attend board meetings. He would receive his consulting fee even if he finds another job; his benefits would cease only if his new employer provides equal or better perks.

Barker also gets to keep his laptop.

“He will help us through the transition,” said Brogan Friday morning about the 24-month consulting job. “He will not help in the hiring process.”

The board has already begun the process to hire a new superintendent and the board will do the work with the help of committees, Brogan said.

The New Plymouth Education Association had conducted a vote of “no confidence” and repeatedly called for Barker to resign over the past three months. Educators and community members later began a recall effort against the trustees. It’s likely the recall process will now cease.

The Idaho Press Tribune reported in March that Phil Pittman, pastor of New Plymouth First Baptist Church, told Barker that a community member was willing to pay for his contract buyout. At the time, Barker said he would not resign or accept any money.

“I didn’t even consider it for two seconds. Not even close,” he told Patty Bowen of the Press Tribune.

New Plymouth is a town of about 1,600 and the district educates about 1,000 students. The district’s annual budget is $6.2 million and the average teacher salary is $48,000.

Check back later for more details from other Idaho Education News public records requests.

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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