Art Johnson's settlement: $308k severance package - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Art Johnson's settlement: $308k severance package

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WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) -  After 10 years on the job, Palm Beach County School District superintendent Art Johnson has agreed to resign.

He did so with five minutes left on the clock.

Five minutes before he would have been fired, Johnson agreed to a deal that provides him a $308,000 safety net.

However, Johnson wanted it in writing that the school board couldn't punish him if an audit reveals that he provided cover for a top staffer.

"Dr. Johnson signed the agreement at 4:55 p.m. If I could have signed it any sooner, I would have," said Frank Barbieri, the school board chair.

The agreement states that Art Johnson can't sue the board, but they can sue him regarding any issue, such as an audit finding or conclusion.

"That hung us up for quite a while," said Barbieri.

Johnson stayed in his office suite and let his lawyers negotiate with board chair Frank Barbieri.

The lawyers did win him one concession: a $35,000 health insurance policy for his family until 2014.

The $308,000 package of severance pay and accrued time is all due to be paid in lump sums by March 4th. That's nine days after a new round of budget talks is scheduled between the new superintendent and the board.

The board takes this risk in the midst of an epic budget crisis. The district is losing a $100 million in stimulus money and must obey more expensive restrictions on how large classes can be. Acting superintendent Bill Malone will be new, but face the same old problems.

"Whether Dr. Johnson was here or someone else, we're going to have those serious issues," said Barbieri.

Part of the agreement requires Johnson to help with the transition process.

His last day of work was Monday, but he'll be on the payroll for another three months where he'll collect another $75,000, on top of the other money he's owed.

Art Johnson has not made himself available for comment.

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