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Litchfield superintendent was paid $91,000 on day he resigned

Union Leader Correspondent

July 09. 2015 8:53PM

Dr. Brian Cochrane, superintendent of the Litchfield School District, has resigned from his position and is now serving as interim superintendent. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

LITCHFIELD — Superintendent Brian Cochrane, who recently resigned in the wake of criticism from the Litchfield Education Association, received a $91,076 payment from the school district on June 30.

According to a school district manifest obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader, the school board authorized a payment to Cochrane of $91,076.72 on the day his resignation took effect.

“I can’t comment at this time,” Cochrane said on Thursday about the payment. According to Cochrane’s contract, a payout would only be warranted if he was terminated without cause. If he resigned, a 90-day notice would need to be given, which did not occur in this case, and he would be entitled to any accrued paid time off, states his contract.

Although Cochrane resigned from his role as superintendent, according to a statement from the school board, he began serving as interim superintendent on July 1 until a permanent replacement is hired.

School officials are remaining tight-lipped about the payment to Cochrane, and did not respond to a request for comment from the Union Leader.

The Litchfield School Board has sealed minutes from several nonpublic meetings held in recent weeks, including meetings that took place on June 15, June 24 and June 30. The reasoning for Cochrane’s departure remains unclear, however the Litchfield Education Association previously voted that it has no confidence in Cochrane, which sparked at least one closed-door meeting between the school board and union members last month.

The Union Leader has filed a court action against the school board seeking information on Cochrane’s resignation after a formal right-to-know request was denied by the board’s chairman, Brian Bourque.

Bourque is not commenting on the litigation, nor is he commenting on the $91,076 payout given to Cochrane. The school district’s attorney, Gordon Graham, did not return a phone call or email seeking comment on the court petition asking for access to public records.

In addition to the payment to Cochrane, the board scheduled an emergency meeting on June 30 — the last day of the fiscal year — and voted to encumber $150,000, according to minutes from that meeting. The board did not disclose the reason for the encumbrance.

Last month, the LEA issued a memo to school officials highlighting four issues of concern: unilateral decisions made by Cochrane that are allegedly having a negative impact on student learning and teaching careers; alleged micromanaging of teacher evaluations, course scheduling, teacher certification and student grading programs that are becoming a roadblock to student instruction; building access has been curtailed, which is prohibiting teachers from volunteering in the morning and on weekends as they have in the past; standardized tests are consuming valuable instruction time and displacing students and teachers while disrupting curriculum.

“While several factors played a role in the association’s (no vote of confidence) decision, all reasons for the decision stem from the teachers’ belief that student needs are not being served in the district,” said a prior release from Nathan Cooper, LEA president.

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