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Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Superintendent Robert McClure, who leaves for a new job in January, offered to let the School Board off the hook Tuesday on paying him $180,000 in life-insurance premiums, and the board today quickly accepted.

McClure said after a closed meeting with board members that he would not "obligate" the board to honor an agreement paying the premiums over the next 14 years.

"We'll get together with the attorneys and make sure all of this is in writing," Ken-Ton Trustee Dan Wiles said today of McClure's offer. "I don't anticipate any problems."

The agreement, revealed in Tuesday's editions of The Buffalo News, required the district to pay $12,000 in annual premiums for 15 years even though McClure is leaving the district.

McClure told a packed audience at Tuesday's board meeting that "it was never my intention" to accept the money agreed to in a 1996 contract if he left.

News of McClure's lucrative insurance deal -- one of several revelations involving questionable Ken-Ton spending in the last year -- incurred a new round of taxpayer outcry.

McClure, who became superintendent in 1994, surprised some trustees last week when he signed a five-year contract to be superintendent of Shenendehowa Central School District, near Albany. His new job, which pays $125,000 a year, starts Jan. 5. It also includes a split-dollar life insurance policy, although a spokesperson said details have not been worked out.

During Tuesday's meeting, he said he would meet with critics and others before leaving in an attempt to resolve the "consternation" that has plagued Ken-Ton in the last year. It is, he said, "my way of saying goodbye to the district."

Some skepticism remained, however.

"If this hadn't appeared in the newspaper, would he have made the speech he did?" asked Charles McGillicuddy, a Town of Tonawanda resident.

McClure said he would have.

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