Doing the math on supt.’s payout

Published 1:35 pm Thursday, July 14, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

At the June 9 Isle of Wight County School Board meeting, agenda item “GCBD-R – Leaves and Absences” was presented by Dr. James Thornton to the board, which accepted it without any questions. This document informs the public and employees who are retiring, including Dr. Thornton, how employees are paid for their retirement benefits.

“GCBD-R – Leaves and Absences” states: “The Isle of Wight County School Board recognizes the importance of a sound and inclusive leave policy for the promotion of physical and mental health of its employees and for maintaining good morale. The following categories of leaves shall be recognized by the Isle of Wight County School Board as applicable to the Isle of Wight County Schools personnel who are employed on a regular full-time salaried basis.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“All employees terminating employment will receive a lump sum payment for earned, accumulated, unused annual leave days up to a maximum of thirty (30) days. The maximum annual leave balance of an eligible employee as of June 30 of each year is to be 30 days. Any days over thirty (30) will automatically be converted to sick leave effective July 1. (The Smithfield Times reported that Dr. Thornton’s salary was $186,000, so his full per diem rate (rate of pay per day) was $775 per day since he worked 240 days like other 12-month administrators.    $775 per day times 30 days equals $23,250.)

“Upon retirement or death of an employee, under any Virginia Retirement System plan, employees (or their estates in the event of death) shall be entitled to a partial per diem payment for all credited sick leave earned through the date of retirement, not to exceed 250 days. Payment will be computed at a rate of $30 per day.”

By GCBD-R, Dr. Thornton could get up to $7,500 for his unused sick days if he had 250. Add the two totals up and Dr. Thornton could be walking away with $30,750. Other employees retiring, like Michael Lombardo, Cheryl Elliott and several teachers whose salaries are not as high as Dr. Thornton, will get less, but it is good to know that all employees will be receiving retirement benefits by using the same criteria, to ensure a fair and equitable process regardless of position title.


Amy Wiggs


Editor’s note: The Smithfield Times has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the particulars of Thornton’s retirement package and will report on what we learn.