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By PAMELA GOULD
The Spotsylvania County School Board gave Superintendent Shelley K. Redinger $20,000 to relocate from Oregon to Virginia to begin work here last July.
The bulk of that money--$18,890.47--was needed to ship her family's belongings cross country.
The rest went for her red-eye flight June 26--a one-way ticket that cost $311.40--and shipping her car to Virginia, which cost $957.
Redinger paid the $158.87 those three items cost above the $20,000 allowed by her contract, according to invoices obtained by The Free Lance-Star. But those out-of-pocket expenses were a fraction of the additional cost Redinger and her family bore in making the move from the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast.
They lost at least $120,000 in the sale of their home in Boring, Ore., according to public records.
They also incurred the cost of temporary housing while searching for a home in Spotsylvania and had additional expenses in moving Redinger's husband and son to the county.
But with Redinger preparing to leave the division after just one year here, School Board members Amanda Blalock, Ray Lora and Dawn Shelley are suggesting she should reimburse the county some or all of the relocation money she received.
"It has been made crystal clear to me by my constituents that is an area they want me to approach," Blalock said this week.
"In weighing all sides, I do believe the right thing for the School Board to do is to ask for the relocation expenses to be reimbursed to the school division."
However, all three stressed that their decision is strictly about fiscal responsibility, not Redinger's performance, which they said has been stellar.
"Everyone has thought she has done a great job, and it has nothing to do with that," Shelley said.
Redinger, 44, signed a four-year contract when she was selected in February 2011 to succeed retiring Superintendent Jerry Hill.
She was expected to stay here because she and her husband, Darin, had been looking for a place to raise their son, a third-grader.
That is why she said they agreed to sell their Oregon home at a loss and move quickly to buy a home in Spotsylvania rather than renting on either end.
They immediately wanted to put down roots in the community they expected to call home for the next decade and get their son settled into his new school.
That was also why they sought out local companies to handle the transfer of their belongings and the mortgage on the home they bought, she said.
Their plans changed, however, after the superintendent search firm for the Spokane, Wash., public schools contacted her in February. She agreed to consider leaving Spotsylvania because relatives in Washington are seriously ill. Her mother, who lives in Spokane, is battling cancer.
The Spokane Board of Directors offered Redinger the position last Saturday and hopes to finalize her contract next Wednesday, but the Spotsylvania School Board first needs to release her from her contract here.
Six members of the Spotsylvania board met in closed session for nearly an hour on Monday to discuss Redinger's contract, but they took no action.
They are scheduled to meet again this coming Monday. So far, board members haven't indicated resistance to releasing her from her contract, given her family situation.
Redinger's predecessor was also released from his contract to leave Spotsylvania.
In April 2009, the School Board authorized Hill to participate in the division's early retirement program, which gave him a $140,400 bonus.
Hill, now 71, retired June 30, 2011, but the school division will pay him through fiscal 2015. Though bonuses were to be paid out over three years, the amount of his bonus plus the payout of his accumulated sick leave and annual leave exceed the amount allowed annually by the IRS, so it is being spread over five years, schools Chief Financial Officer LaShahn Gaines said.
Four members of the current board, including Blalock and Lora, were part of the decision to let Hill leave early and receive the bonus.
The other two--then-Chairman Gil Seaux and current Chairwoman Linda Wieland--have declined to share their thoughts on whether Redinger should reimburse the division for leaving early.
Redinger's Spotsylvania contract says nothing about what happens if she wishes to leave before fulfilling her contract.
Blalock, Wieland and Shelley said that regardless of what happens with Redinger, they expect the next superintendent's contract to be worded to avoid a similar issue.
"My hope is that we will learn from mistakes and better protect the division," Shelley said.
Blalock, who co-chaired the search committee that found Redinger, said she did not fault the contract because all indications were that she planned to stay in Spotsylvania.
"What we never thought would happen happened," Blalock said. "We want to learn from it."
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972