The Anderson Community Schools board’s decision to fire Superintendent Timothy Smith begs a slew of questions.
Chief among them: How much will it cost taxpayers? Why, exactly, is Smith being fired? And why did the board seemingly violate the state’s Open Door law in the process?
The board announced at its March 10 public meeting that it was “in negotiation for a separation agreement” with Smith, ACS’s superintendent since 2017. Board President Pat Hill revealed that the board had voted unanimously to the separation.
That vote should have taken place in the public meeting to comply with Indiana’s Open Door laws. Also, the board should have been more forthcoming publicly about its decision.
Immediately after the meeting, this is all Hill would say: “It just becomes a matter of separation of vision and leadership and where we want the corporation to go, compared to where he’s at.”
Interviewed later in the week, Hill gave a similarly vague statement, saying that Smith was “lacking in the leadership department.”
Hill pointed out that the board was still in negotiations to settle with Smith and that he hadn’t been fired yet. That means the school system currently has two superintendents simultaneously — interim superintendent and longtime ACS administrator Joe Cronk, and lame duck Superintendent Tim Smith.
Smith was — still is, until the agreement is finalized — making $145,000 a year plus benefits. He’s apt to get a generous severance package, leaving taxpayers to foot that bill, plus the salary of his to-be-determined successor.
The school board owes Anderson residents, many of whom send their children to schools in the ACS system, a better, more-detailed explanation of why Smith was let go. From most perspectives, he was a steady leader in tempestuous times for public schools.
Presumably, the school board feels the next superintendent will do better. Of course, that’s difficult to judge, since the public has no idea what Smith did wrong.