More details released in superintendent severance deal

By Kim Lincoln | Jan 08, 2014
Photo by: File photo From left, Business Manager Scott Vaitones, Superintendent Lew Collins and Board Chairman Esther "Tess" Kilgour.

Rockland — An agreement between Regional School Unit 13 and outgoing Superintendent Lew Collins was released Jan. 8.

The deal provides Collins with his full salary, health, dental, and disability insurance through Dec. 31, 2014. In addition Collins will be compensated for 19 unused vacation days and the chairman of the board will provide Collins with a reference letter. The board also may not contest any application for unemployment compensation after Dec. 31, 2014, the agreement states.

The agreement was signed Dec. 30, 2013 by Collins and Board Chairman Esther "Tess" Kilgour.

Collins, per his contract, is paid $108,000 per year. His contract was set to expire in June 2014, but the superintendent resigned the position Dec. 31, 2013 after several months of turmoil in the district. In October, both teachers and administrations sent letters of no confidence in the superintendent's leadership. The resignation is effective Feb. 15.

In November, Business Manager Scott Vaitones was placed on paid administrative leave after he said Collins overspent the special education budget by $500,000. Collins denies the over-expenditure.

Collins has cited lack of full support of the board for his departure.

The deal also calls for Collins to release any and all claims, complaints, grievances, charges, attorney's fee claims, actions, suits, causes of action, damages, costs and liabilities. Collins was granted a grievance by the board in a closed-door meeting Nov. 8.

According to the agreement, Collins will help in facilitating a smooth transition for his replacement as superintendent.

The board is expected to discuss the superintendent's resignation and how to proceed with an interim superintendent at the Thursday, Jan. 9 public board meeting. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at McLain School.

Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at

Comments (7)
Posted by: Alan Benner | Jan 10, 2014 09:48

This article states that "Collins was granted a grievence by the board in a closed-door meeting Nov. 8", last sentence paragraph 7. To me this signifies that something went on that the public is unaware of. At least I'm unaware of.

The board has created this uproar by allowing closed door meetings in the first place. Lack of disclosure has brought this wrath upon the board, whether they deserve it or not.

As a local taxpayer, I'm appalled at this situation as are others. We all deserve better from this board.

Posted by: ken sylvester | Jan 10, 2014 09:10

Probably the RSU board members all have the feeling that they did their job, "we have to make the tough decisions". Time will tell.

Posted by: Kathleen Brandes | Jan 09, 2014 22:13


1. I have never met or worked with Lew Collins.

2. I am a retired educator who worked as a teacher and then an administrator in SAD 28 for two decades.

3. I have been a resident of South Thomaston for four decades.


1. When both teachers AND administrators publicly declare no confidence in a superintendent, there IS a serious leadership problem.

2. School Boards cannot hide behind the excuse that this is a "personnel issue" in granting public monies that exceed all contractural limits and not giving a public reckoning of why they do so.


1. If a person resigns several months before the end of his contract year, why is he entitled to salary and benefits after the resignation date?

2. And why does that person then have a claim to be paid for six months BEYOND his contract year?

3. If a teacher resigned from the RSU months before his or her contract year, would he or she be paid for 11 months of not working? How about 5 months? How about 1 day?

4. How many teaching positions would the combined salary and benefits package the superintendent is receiving support?

5. How can the School Board even consider cutting ANY teaching or staff positions in the upcoming budget when they can blithely give away such a large amount of public money?

6. So did Collins really resign--or did the Board allow him this cover--when they let him know he was being fired? If he were fired, then MAYBE he could argue for his contractual salary through June--but why DECEMBER?

Michael Drons


Posted by: Janet Ruth Dearborn | Jan 09, 2014 12:46

There are simply no words to describe my disgust when I read in the Bangor Daily News that in addition to Mr. Collins severance package, he will also be able to collect unemployment. "The board will not stand in his way to unemployment". Let's see, he wasn't laid off, he what gives? Is this his bonus on top of a hefty salary and benefit package as severance?

I would suggest before the school board makes another decision that they retain a lawyer familiar with employment law, the contract Mr. Collins received is one we all can only wish for in these times. Progressive counseling, job performance reviews and documentation might have spared the RSU 13 taxpayers this latest hit. It's so gratifying to find out that we will not be paying Mr. Collins' legal fees...this is surreal.

People who volunteer to serve on boards and commissions should be commended, it is a thankless job. Many do not possess the background to do battle, they need advice beyond the superintendent level. Unfortunately, there needs to be a competent attorney reviewing proposals prior to them becoming final decisions.

There are a million jokes about attorneys and people have strong opinions about the need. The only conclusion I could draw from what little was released is that Mr. Collins' attorney had the ammunition to shoot his contract full of holes and a stack of documented injustices to Mr. Collins.

There is too much at stake in the months to come. Yes, it might increase the current legal fees, but, I think good representation advising the board is our only hope. We need to protect ourselves because we all know this is just the beginning of huge budgetary and personnel problems.

Lastly, why does anyone care what Lew Collins' budgetary vision for the future is? Why give him any forum at this point to offer recommendations that could be based purely on bad personal relationships he had with personnel. He worries about his reputation, why give him the opportunity to throw any one else under the bus? We only need to look to his knee jerk reaction with the school's business manager to discern the way he operates.

In the corporate world, the day you announce you are leaving is the last day you are on the job.....take your box and leave. Nothing is gained by Lew Collins being on site until February 15th and everything to lose.






Posted by: Betty McCommic | Jan 08, 2014 18:51

I would guess there is alot they are not telling.


Posted by: todd caverly | Jan 08, 2014 15:40

There are budget issues, and he is being paid $108,000 plus major benefits for an extra 10.5 months.... That is a lot of money to not do anything.

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Jan 08, 2014 11:39

Not being well versed in these types of negotiations I had to wonder why if the contract expired in June 2014 why is the severance package for all of 2014?

If you wish to comment, please login.