$255,000 buyout in Burnsville was unnecessary

Nickalas Tabbert

 The Burnsville school board that voted to give Tania Chance a $255,000 buyout last summer was no obligation to do so, the Star Tribune said Friday.

The district has refused to say why it agreed to the settlement or why Chance's employment was ended other than that both sides wanted to end their employment relationship and that the agreement absolves the district of any claims Chance might bring. 

The school board was under no obligation to give the human resources director a new two-year contract, as she is not a licensed employee and under state law is not required to have one.

Last summer, though, a 6-1 vote in favor of granting the contract gave Chance a $254,814 buyout in one of the largest seperation agreements on record for a school administrator in the state.

The Tribune said if the board had decided differently about giving Chance a contract, the district might have avoided paying her more than a quarter of a million dollars to, in effect, skip school for the next 18 months.

"Depending on the terms of employment, you might be able to release an employee without any [financial] liability," said Gary Amoroso, Lakeville's ex-superintendent and now executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District hired Chance in 2010.  During her time there, Chance was subject to controversy from a YouTube video of her working out and, apparently, drinking several shots of liquor very quickly.  It was a promotional video for her self-published book.

On Thursday, the district posted a statement on its website about the payout, although still failing to explain why it was necessary.  "Board members understand that every dollar of taxpayer money is critically important …," the statement said.  "Consequently, the business decision … to approve this separation agreement was viewed as a difficult, yet necessary, step to allow the district to move forward."