BUFFALO, N.Y. — Former Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash will be walking away from Buffalo Public Schools with just over $300,000 in his pocket.
Through a state Freedom of Information Law request 2 On Your Side's partner Investigative Post acquired the outgoing school leader's resignation agreement. The 10-page document releases Dr. Cash from almost all responsibilities and lays out his $311,954 package.
"It's a pretty rich severance package," said Investigative Post Editor Jim Heaney.
After just over seven years on the job, Dr. Cash will walk away with just over one year's salary in cash Heaney added. The agreement includes one payment of $299,995 and another for unused vacation time equal to $11,959. On top of that, three years of district provided health insurance is also included, which Heaney estimated is valued at $50,000. The deal also bars Dr. Cash from taking any future legal action against the district.
So who's paying?
“Well, state taxpayers provide the district with over 80% of its funding so ultimately this is going to be state taxpayers who are going to foot the bill for this," said Heaney.
Buffalo Public Schools has an operating budget close to $1 billion so Heaney said Cash's agreement likely won't be a huge hit to the district. Previous reporting by 2 On Your Side showed that back in 2014 former Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown received a similar buyout after the school board also voted to accept her resignation. Dr. Brown received $240,000 which included vacation time and consulting fees.
Several interim superintendents beginning with Will Keresztes, Donald Ogilvie, and Darren Brown filled the gap before Dr. Cash's arrival in December 2015.
Despite having the Board of Education's support for much of his time as superintendent, Heaney said issues like poor student achievement likely caught up to Dr. Cash over time and his response to the COVID pandemic also wasn't a bright spot.
"Cash enjoyed the support of the board until very recently, his annual job performance reviews were quite good. They extended his contract in 2020. They've given him raises but I think the problems that the board overlooked maybe caught up with Cash in the last year," Heaney added.
It remains unclear whether Dr. Cash resigned on his own accord or was asked to leave by the board. Those discussions likely happened in executive session, behind closed doors Heaney said so the public may never know.
The agreement does include a $5,000 consulting gig for Cash, similar to the district's previous buyout in 2014. It allows the district to call on Cash from now until August 31, 2022 to assist during the transition period. Dr. Tonja Williams was named as interim superintendent Wednesday during the same Buffalo School Board Meeting that Cash's resignation was accepted.
And while the search is still in the very early stages, Buffalo Public Schools is not unfamiliar with the processing of finding a new superintendent but Heaney said he will be interested to see who the job posting might attract.
"I think the question there is how wide of a net with the district cast in looking for a new superintendent and who's going to want to come because while the pay is good the headaches are probably even bigger," Heaney said.
"This is a very challenging district and it will be interesting to see the quality of candidates they attract."