The Long Goodbye

With the departure of Beaumont Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Carrol Thomas looming ever closer with each passing week, most taxpayers will undoubtedly breathe a sigh of relief when Butch finally heads for his retirement villa – or wherever one of the most highly compensated public school officials in Texas will go to count his millions. The pomp and circumstance surrounding this long goodbye seem more appropriate for a ruling monarch or head of state, but his BISD minions should count themselves lucky there hasn’t been a pyramid constructed where they would be entombed with Thomas and his gold.Those who will miss Doc can take comfort in the ascension of Dr. Timothy Chargois, already granted a Thomas-like automatic annual pay raise despite the stated intention of a clear majority of board members. Chicanery by BISD attorneys and rogue board members managed to thwart the will of the majority. To date, Chargois has shown no sign of rejecting this backdoor largesse even though his salary doubled when he got the job.

But Thomas isn’t gone yet, and the bill for his leave-taking gets more expensive by the day. He agreed to move up his retirement date by five months after the BISD board ponied up $156,000 to cover the remaining five months of his contract.

Now a nonprofit group called Beaumont Metropolitan Council of PTAs has announced a “Retirement Extravaganza” to honor Thomas on Aug. 23. The fete will kick off with a three-hour reception starting at 4 p.m. at the new Beaumont Event Center followed by a “Gala Concert” at 7:30 p.m. featuring a Motown revue presented by a group out of Houston. The admission to that Civic Center event is $16.

The PTA group claims no taxpayer money will be used for the event – at least not directly. But money that passes through BISD’s hands has a way of ending up where the district wants it. Remember the scandal last year involving Business Review USA, the online “magazine” that inexplicably rated BISD as one of the Top 10 school districts in the nation? In exchange for the “honor,” BISD provided them with a list of their vendors who were solicited for advertising sales.

Among the BISD vendors embroiled in this scheme were Favre Public Adjusters, Manning’s Supply and SETEX Construction, which had been paid at least $800,000 that year for work on BISD bond projects. Perhaps an argument can be made that the money spent to secure that Top 10 rating was not direct taxpayer dollars, but where do you think those vendors got it?