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Burnaby superintendent's termination could cost board $430,000

Terminating its former superintendent could cost the Burnaby school board well over $400,000 over the next two years, according to documents obtained by the NOW .
Gina Niccoli-Moen
School District No. 41 superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen

Terminating its former superintendent could cost the Burnaby school board well over $400,000 over the next two years, according to documents obtained by the NOW.

Kevin Kaardal, the school district’s CEO for two years, stepped down suddenly at the end of January.

His settlement agreement, obtained under a freedom of information request, states he will spend until July 17 using up vacation and gratuity days while collecting full salary, benefits and a $9,151 car allowance.

The board of education will formally terminate Kaardal “without cause” on July 17, the agreement states, kicking off an 18-month “notice period” during which the former superintendent will continue to collect salary and benefits until Jan. 17, 2017.

Kaardal earned $215,702 in salary and benefits in 2013/14, according to the district’s most recent executive compensation report, potentially putting the bill for his termination to about $430,000.

If the former superintendent gets a public sector job in B.C. during the notice period, severance payments would end under the settlement agreement, unless his new job paid less than his School District No. 41 position.

In that case, the board would top Kaardal up until Jan. 17, 2017.

If he gets a job outside of the B.C. public sector, salary and benefits would stop immediately and Kaardal be paid out 50 per cent of his remaining salary in a lump sum.

Under the terms of the agreement, the board provided their former superintendent with a reference letter vetted by both parties, and Kaardal signed a release relinquishing any right to sue the board for his termination.

Board chair Ron Burton told the NOW in February that Kaardal’s departure was neither a firing nor a resignation.

“It was kind of a mutual agreement where the board wanted to move in a different direction and he wanted to pursue other options,” Burton said.

The board chair said he couldn’t delve more deeply into the details because it was a personnel issue and the two parties had signed a confidentiality agreement.

“It’s just one of those things in a relationship that happens when you want to travel different paths,” Burton said.

Before taking the helm two years ago after former superintendent Claudio Morelli’s retirement, Kaardal had worked in the district as an assistant superintendent for six years.

He beat out Gina Niccoli-Moen for the district’s top job.

She has now replaced him.

The board offered her the job on Jan. 28, according to a document obtained through another freedom of information request, and she took over the CEO post on Feb. 1.

The new superintendent was offered a $180,000 salary in her first year plus benefits, according to the board’s offer letter.

Subject to satisfactory performance reviews, she will get a $6,000 raise in her second year and another $6,000 raise the year after that.