The resignation of Dr. Donna Bernard was accepted by the Board of Education Thursday night and speculation as too the terms of her leaving ended. Dr. Bernard will continue as Coventry’s active Superintendent until August 15th when she will begin a leave of absence until officially retiring on June 30, 2012.
Dr. Bernard was granted a longevity bonus in the past for having served five (5) years on the job but will not receive a second bonus which would be due at the end of ten (10) years. The leave of absence will however allow Dr. Bernard to now qualify for a pension based on 20 years of service. Dr. Bernard had ten years of service in West Hartford before leaving for Arizona where she served and qualified for a pension before returning to Connecticut to serve as Superintendent in Coventry.
If the leave of absence were not granted by the Coventry Board of Education the taxpayers of Connecticut would have only been responsible for a pension payment for Superintendent Bernard based on ten (10) years of service and not the twenty years that will now be paid. So you may be wondering who voted for this leave of absence to provide the taxpayers with the opportunity to increase the Superintendents pension?
The actual vote was split with Democrats Cheryl Trudon, Jennifer Beausoleil, Mary Kortmann and Gene Michaud all voting in favor of granting a leave of absence. Republican Mary Ann Emaneule was absent from the meeting while other members Mark Malcolm and John Barrett voted against the proposal. Mr. Barrett and Mr. Malcolm are not members of either major political party.
In opposing the proposal Mr. Malcolm said he felt that it would not be appropriate to grant a leave of absence with the knowledge that the Superintendent would use the time to pursue other employment. This is not a request for a leave of absence where need is a factor but rather want or desire. Mr. Barrett also opposed the request but indicated his opposition was based on using the leave of absence for the purpose of gaining work credit without working resulting in increased cost to taxpayers for the life of the pension.
Since Dr. Bernard is the Superintendent of Schools and an educator it is fair to look at the lessons learned from this request for a leave of absence. It is not recommended that these lessons be passed on to your children as you may find some of them to be objectionable behavior. Lesson 1 If you have the support of the right people you can take advantage of “the system” to your personal advantage. Lesson 2 It is ok not to work and still take credit for working. Lesson 3 You can still work toward a third pension on another job even while on your leave of absence and earning credit for your second pension. Lesson 4 There is a difference between need and greed but it is not greed if you are willing to take what others are willing to give as your just reward.
Dr. Bernard has served the Town of Coventry well and offered the taxpayers, students and parents many valuable lessons she has worked well with the Board of Education and they have expressed their gratitude. Experience is a great teacher and as we look to the future we can thank Dr. Bernard for lessons in the past, and wish her well in her future endeavors.
Governor Malloy has said he wants to raise taxes on gasoline, clothing, haircuts and more and said he needs concessions from labor in areas such as wages, and pensions or he may need to reduce aid to Towns and this could severely impact negatively on the education of every student. Before you complain about the State budget and tax increases or reductions in state aid to education remember it was your Board of Education that took action to increase the needs of the State by voting for this leave of absence.
Members of the Board of Education had the vote on Thursday, you have the vote in November if you like what they do, vote for them. If not, vote them out of office.
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