BENNINGTON >> Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Chief Financial Officer Rick Pembroke submitted his official letter of resignation on Wednesday.
The SVSU board voted last week to give Pembroke, who was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this month, until March 18 to submit a letter of resignation. This letter was contingent on the two sides completing a severance agreement. That agreement was finalized on Wednesday.
Superintendent Jim Culkeen made a statement at the SVSU board meeting on Wednesday, saying, "The SVSU board authorized me on March 15, 2016 to enter into negotiations to produce a settlement agreement with the SVSU CFO Richard Pembroke. We received Mr. Pembroke's letter of resignation on Friday March 18, 2016, which was contingent on completing the settlement agreement. This afternoon, we received a signed unconditional letter of resignation, a signed general release, and a signed settlement agreement. The amount of the settlement is consistent with what was authorized by the SVSU board. The settlement agreement and the process have been completed. Copies of the settlement agreement will be available after 10 a.m. tomorrow in the SVSU Central Office.
According to the terms of the separation agreement, Pembroke will receive $90,546.56, which includes his current salary through September, as well as accrued sick leave and vacation time as of March 22. The supervisory union will also continue to pay health and dental insurance, retirement, and life insurance through September. Pembroke will also retain his employee cell phone.
In the letter of resignation, Pembroke wrote, "I have been employed by the SVSU since 2005. During my tenure I have achieved many accomplishments saving the districts millions of dollars. The following are some accomplishments I am the proudest of: Over 97 percent of the budgets and special articles presented to the public have been approved; receiving clean, transparent audits resulting in the highest possible opinion from independent, external auditors; the financing and management of the Bennington Elementary addition; The lease and renovations of the Early Childhood Program on Division Street; improving the financial condition of the Woodford School District while protecting their reserve fund; receiving a 90% grant for and management of the construction of the biomass heating plant at the high school; receiving a federal Qualified School Construction Bond for North Bennington's renovation; guiding all the districts through the financial pieces of Acts 60, 68, 130, 153, 156, and 46; identifying space and managing renovations for the NECC program; and consolidating the Food Service Program under the SVSU, turning a combined $45,000 annual deficit into a combined $90,000 annual surplus, while improving food quality and student satisfaction."
"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Supervisory Union, its Districts, and especially the public," he concluded, "I hereby resign my position as Chief Financial Officer, effective immediately."
"We, as a board, should thank Rick for all the time, and all the work he has done for us," said newly elected SVSU Chairman Nelson Brownell, "It's regrettable that he's gone, but we should thank him for all his years of service."
At the end of the meeting, former SVSU chairman and Bennington School District chairman Ken Swierad asked the superintendent to prepare a report detailing all of the legal fees, "in this case, starting with the complaint, the investigation, the hearings, and all the legal fees, and all that." Brownell said he would speak with the superintendent and discuss any legal issues that could come from presenting such a report. "I just want to know what we can and can't do," he said.
"If Bennington is going to pay 70 percent of those bills, we should know what those bills are for," said Swierad.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.