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News / Clark County News

Evergreen Superintendent Steach leaves with $301,812.17 severance package

John Steach unexpectedly resigned in late February

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter
Published: March 1, 2019, 12:50pm

The resigned superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools will walk away from the district with $301,812.17 in severance, according to an agreement provided to The Columbian by the school district.

Former Superintendent John Steach will receive a lump sum that includes 12 months’ salary, his remaining vacation balance and tax-sheltered annuity contributions for his 2018-2019 school year contract. He will also receive his benefits through April 30.

Steach resigned unexpectedly Tuesday, and the school board appointed chief operating officer Mike Merlino to serve in the interim. The district announced Feb. 22 that the school board was considering placing Steach on administrative leave by way of a special meeting announcement, then later updated the agenda to include Steach’s possible resignation.

Just moments before the district’s regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting, Steach submitted his resignation.

The district has not explained why Steach suddenly departed from Clark County’s largest district, which has 26,000 students and is the county’s third-largest employer. For that matter, it doesn’t look like they’re going to. The district offered no additional comment Friday, and Steach’s resignation includes a nondisparagement clause. Both the district and Steach, therefore, have agreed not to make negative remarks about the other. Steach also waives his right to sue or file grievances with the school district, and agrees never to apply for another job there again.

Evergreen Education Association Bill Beville declined to comment on the resignation package. The teachers’ union released a statement Wednesday wishing Steach luck and looking forward with optimism to the union’s relationship with Merlino.

“We continue to set a high bar of expectations on the school board members elected in this community in showing leadership,” Beville wrote in the statement. “This further illustrates the need we have for transparency, collaboration, listening to feedback from the community and our members, and most of all mutual respect.”

Steach’s base salary was $242,584 for the 2018-2019 school year. Median teacher salary in the district, including time, responsibility and incentive pay and some additional hours, is $67,522, according to the Evergreen Education Association’s collective bargaining agreement.

Evergreen Public Schools faces between a $12 million to $18 million shortfall in the coming school year, a function of increasing labor costs, declining enrollment and capped local levy dollars. Merlino on Tuesday promised a more “transparent” budget planning process moving forward, noting he felt better than he did a month ago about the upcoming budget.

“We will every day work very hard to make sure that we have done our due diligence … to put students first, and (reflect) the values of the community and the board,” he said.

Steach’s resignation caps a brief tenure with the district, marked by school funding campaigns, expected budget cuts and days of teacher strikes. Steach was hired by Evergreen Public Schools as a deputy superintendent in 2014, then appointed to the top job when Superintendent John Deeder retired in 2017.

Columbian Education Reporter