by Sylvia Dodge
It took school directors two months to think over Lyndon Town School principal George Fuller's request and, in the end, the board came to a compromise that seems to make all sides happy.
In May, Fuller announced his plans to retire. He will continue as principal at Lyndon Town School until the end of June 1998, but will leave his position two years before he will be eligible for full insurance benefits under the Vermont teacher retirement plan.
While making his early retirement announcement, Fuller asked that the school district give him a $5,000 payout for two consecutive years, essentially to cover his insurance expenses. His request was supported by school directors Sue Mills and Kevin Calkins, who make up the school board's personnel committee.
According to Mary Ann Riggie, superintendent of the Caledonia North Supervisory Union, such payouts are not unique in Vermont. Calkins said in recent years, even Lyndon has used such a program, offering teachers with more than 10 years service a buyout plan that gave them several thousand dollars over a three-year period.
In May and June, the school directors made no decision about Fuller's request, both times opting to think about it for another month. At their regular board meeting last Wednesday, after discussion in a closed-door session, the school directors finally came to a decision. Fuller will receive half of his request, a $5,000 payout during the upcoming academic year.
Fuller will receive the extra $5,000 as part of his pay.
"Basically, we gave him a $5,000 pay raise," explained School Director Mark Wheeler.
He said the school board thought long and hard about the decision, weighing tough economic times against Fuller's exemplary service to the district.
During his tenure working for the Lyndon School District, Fuller has taken very little sick time. According to school district policy, that sick time will not be reimbursed upon retirement.
"He's been a picture of attendance," said Wheeler, who added that the board could not ignore Fuller's many years of loyal service to Lyndon.
Wheeler also explained that the school directors decided to confine the extra compensation only to the upcoming school year, in order not to stretch payments out into subsequent fiscal years.