Jeffco’s Stevenson Scores Six-Figure Payout On Way Out Door

February 26, 2014
Former Jeffco superintendent Cindy Stevenson

Former Jeffco superintendent Cindy Stevenson

DENVER — Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson will receive a six-figure cash payout as part of her lucrative early-release agreement, even though she’s leaving the district with four months to spare on her contract.

Stevenson, whose last day of work was Feb. 21, will receive $204,194, which includes the $68,500 in salary she would have received if she had worked through June, according to district records obtained by The Colorado Observer through an open-records request.

Stevenson, who served 12 years as superintendent, will also be paid $35,894 for unused vacation days and $85,107 for unused sick days. She receives a $10,000 “retention bonus” and another $10,000 in “additional compensation” in lieu of a performance bonus.

It’s a generous farewell package for Stevenson, who submitted her resignation two days after voters elected a conservative pro-reform majority to the five-member school board on Nov. 5. She later requested and was granted an early release from her contract, which expires June 30.

The Jefferson County School District has been forced to cut $79 million in classroom spending since 2010, eliminating 500 full-time equivalent positions over that same period, and dipping into reserves to avoid deeper cuts, according to the district website.

The local teachers’ union, an affiliate of the Colorado Education Association, and its backers have insisted Stevenson was “forced out.” A crowd of about 250 people disrupted a Feb. 8 board meeting at which she announced her early departure with shouts and jeers until the meeting was adjourned early due to security concerns.

Stevenson told Fox31 that she left because she “wasn’t trusted or respected.”

Interestingly, Stevenson’s eight-page early-release agreement does not include a non-disparagement clause, which is often included in deals terminating the employment of high-ranking officials or key employees – especially those who leave their posts under less-than-amicable terms.

The absence of such a clause leaves Stevenson free to criticize the board and the district without violating the agreement or jeopardizing her payout. Stevenson is seen as a close ally of the teachers’ union, which opposed the election of pro-reform board members John Newkirk, Julie Williams and Ken Witt.

The three newly elected members voted in favor of Stevenson’s early release agreement, along with incumbent member Jill Fellman.  Board member Lesley Dahlkemper, a vocal supporter of Stevenson’s, opposed the agreement.

The exit deal also prohibits Stevenson from volunteering or applying for employment with the district, including its charter schools, at any time before Dec. 31, 2018.

Stevenson has already been hired by the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) to direct a new leadership initiative.  Under the agreement, the district is no longer required to pay for Stevenson’s memberships in professional and trade organizations like CASE.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

3 Responses to Jeffco’s Stevenson Scores Six-Figure Payout On Way Out Door

  1. Brian McFarlane
    February 26, 2014 at 11:35 am

    “Stevenson told Fox31 that she left because she “wasn’t trusted or respected.””

    How could she have known that when she gave notice 1 day after the election… she hadn’t even worked with the board when she gave notice. She left early because she got another job; why lie about it? I think she knows she should not be trusted.

    She is getting $88,500 too much in her pay out.

  2. February 27, 2014 at 9:24 am

    The cyberbullying that went on in attacking three CO State Senators,at the end of 2013, including the attack in Jefferson County against Sen. Evie Hudak, and was part of the recall effort in being mean, false, and
    with bogus wording in the Recall Petition itself was totally without substance, but was only innuendo and vague accusations. But no one had the sense to read it with critical analysis. Those who signed the recall petitions for the most part had no background in being down at the state capitol for any length of time in order to realize that the wording could have applied to any state legislator at any different time and under any similar circumstances. It was all a power grabbing con job.
    As a former Classroom English Instructor, I know how to read papers. The
    spin off of the effort on the Recalls gave momentum to the “Flat Earth
    Society” backers whose candidates won the three open seats on the Jeffco R-1 School District Board. Stevenson was forced out due to bogus political
    circumstances and for no other reason. She knew what happened. She knew
    full well who these three newly elected Yahoos were and what they were all about: “hacks for the Right Wing”. Thanks Cindy for all of your caring, your knowledge, your warmth, for your communication and personal
    skills and for your friendliness and most important, “thanks Cindy for your Decency!” We will miss that the most.

  3. Jeffco Mom
    March 7, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Just an update: While $204K may sound like a lot, the search firm picked by the board has recommended that the district get ready to spend more like $280K as a base salary. For those of you unaware, Superintendent Stevenson was one of the lowest paid superintendents for districts of that size. So, now, in addition to lowing someone committed to the district for as long as she had any touch with the education system from child to grownup, we now will be looking for someone paid 1.5x what she made. Happy with the fiscally conservative approach now? When Ms. Williams suggested that the board low-ball the salary, she was gently reprimanded by the search firm that this would be unethical behavior.

    She most likely deserved the full payout for having to deal with the shenanigans of the new board members and the new counsel who, by the way, may be a great charter school lawyer and advocate, but does not seem able to advise or work with a more corporate board such as the Jeffco Ed Board. His lack of knowledge and ability is frightful. Watch some of the Transparency Jeffco videos for examples. Even if you don’t like their tag lines, at least you get to see all the action for yourself, not rely on a rehash that may or may not be accurate.


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