Carrol Thomas has served at the helm of the Beaumont Independent School District for the past 16 years but this next year will be his last, as he announced just after 10 p.m. Wednesday that he is retiring at the end of the first semester of the 2012 school year.
His final day will work out to be somewhere between January 2 and January 18, 2013, according to the normal school calendar used by BISD. The announcement came less than five minutes after BISD Trustee Zenobia Busch made a motion to give Thomas his annual 3.9 percent pay increase and extend his contract another year based on a favorable performance review.
The Examiner first reported that Thomas could be leaving the district in its January 12, 2012, edition. That story also discussed a possible buyout or payout to Thomas for his years of service to BISD. When asked about what remuneration would be given to Thomas upon his departure, BISD president Woodrow Reece said, “Well, it was of his own freewill and that is what he decided to do after 16 years. Maybe you didn’t hear what the letter said, but it said he would want the same thing that any other employee in the district would get – just his benefits and what have you. Nothing like what we discussed the other day.”
He said the reason Thomas’ contract was extended another year despite the fact that trustees knew he was retiring after he discussing it in executive session was because a favorable review automatically qualifies Thomas for an additional year on his contract.
Reece said a committee would be formed to search for a new superintendent and he refused to discuss a possible salary for the next person to run BISD following Thomas’ departure.
“I wouldn’t speculate on who the next superintendent will be,” Reece said. “We will have a committee of three and they will go out and do the search. We will let the persons who go out and do the search who the top three or four or five should be.
“I can’t give you a dollar figure (to pay Thomas’ replacement). That wouldn’t be fair. We will give a fair compensation for whatever it will take to run this school district.”
When Thomas first came to BISD, he was the highest paid school superintendent in the nation, earning more than $152,000 a year. Since that time his salary has increased to more than $375,000 annually.
Thomas, whose wife retired from the district last year, said it was time for him to go. He said most superintendents stay less than five years but he had things he wanted to see get accomplished.
“We talked about this three years ago that we would be finishing up the bond issue and Parson’s would be leaving. I appreciate that we got the test scores up and the performance of the students is where we would like for it to be. All of the indicators that I would like to look at are positive. It will be my last year to be president of NABSE (National Alliance of Black School Educators). It’s just time,” he said. “You know, 43 years as an educator, not many people work that long.
“It is time, Jerry. It’s like you said, my wife is retired, we have grandkids now. You are at the top of the line and the district is in great shape, so it is time.”
Thomas said he didn’t have any real regrets. He said he is proud of the things he has done in BISD and that it was a tough district.
“Beaumont was tough when I got here, and it is tough now,” he said. “I think I tried to be fair. I have taken a lot of heat from both communities to be fair and get us where we are today. There may be some things that I might have slowed down but the basic core of it I would have probably done the same. Yeah, there are always some things that I could have changed.”
Most likely Thomas will enter in to some type of consulting work after leaving BISD, but he declined to say whether he would go to work as a consultant for Parson’s, the company overseeing the districts $388.6 million bond initiative.
“I don’t know; I will probably just do it for myself,” Thomas said.
Within minutes of his announcement, posts on Facebook and Twitter were discussing his departure. Some wished him well and congratulated Thomas for his accomplishments in the district. Others were happy, and encouraged him not to wait to “start the new chapter” in his life.