Breese superintendent gets year of pay, two years of insurance as severance

Breese superintendent leaving position after one year

The Breese District 12 School Board has approved a mutual separation agreement with Superintendent Jeff Strieker, who just finished his first year in the position.
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The Breese District 12 School Board has approved a mutual separation agreement with Superintendent Jeff Strieker, who just finished his first year in the position.

Under a separation agreement with the school district he led for 18 months, a former superintendent will get a year’s pay as severance and health insurance coverage until 2020 at the latest.

The agreement also calls for the school district to give an agreed-upon, positive recommendation to future employers of the former superintendent, Jeff Strieker.

Breese District 12 and Strieker mutually agreed to part ways on June 30, after he finished his first full year as the district’s leader.

Strieker told the board he wanted to leave to spend time with family and to pursue other professional and personal opportunities, according to his letter of resignation.

“I depart with a promise to provide support to Principal (Travis) Schmale and you, the Board of Education, in whatever way I can be of help,” Strieker wrote in the letter. “I wish you, the faculty and staff, the parents, and most of all the students of District 12 nothing but the best for a successful upcoming school year and all years in the future.”

Strieker hasn’t responded to the Belleville News-Democrat’s requests for comment. His separation agreement with District 12 was obtained by the BND through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The agreement states that Strieker will receive a severance payment equal to what his salary would have been for the 2018-19 school year. The exact amount isn’t listed in the document, but his salary was $101,000 in the 2017-18 school year.

District 12 will also pay for Strieker’s health insurance until 2020, which is when his contract would have ended, or until he gets a new job.

The school board approved the separation agreement with Strieker at a special meeting on June 28, which was six weeks after the teachers union stated that it had no confidence in the superintendent.

The union represents teachers in the district’s two schools: Breese Elementary and Beckemeyer Elementary. It issued the following statement after the school board meeting:

“The Elementary District 12 Educational Association is grateful that the Breese District 12 School Board has resolved the issue with Superintendent Mr. Jeffrey Strieker. A Vote of No Confidence in Mr. Strieker was taken by the association on Wednesday, May 16, knowing it was not legally binding, but instead a document to notify the school board that members of the association had concerns. With tonight’s board decision, EDEA is excited to move forward, and is anticipating a great school year.”

Union president Heather Todd declined to comment further on the union’s concerns.

District officials deny any wrongdoing by Strieker or the school board in the agreement.

The district is required to provide a letter of recommendation for Strieker, which has already been written by Jamie Toeben, the school board president, and was included in the agreement.

Toeben wrote that Strieker was working in District 12 during “the most difficult of personal and professional circumstances.”

Strieker came to Breese from Litchfield District 12, where he also worked as superintendent, to be closer to family. His wife Alicia died not long after. She had cancer.

At the same time, Toeben wrote that the district was starting to hold employees accountable for their performance, which he said was “met with great resistance and interference” from the union and other district employees.

After the June 28 meeting, the school board issued a statement thanking Strieker and citing his accomplishments, including reducing class sizes and replacing outdated equipment and curriculum.

Beyond that statement and the letter of recommendation, district officials aren’t allowed to comment on Strieker, according to the separation agreement.

Breese District 12 has about 31 teachers and more than 600 students in its two elementary schools.

In addition to the school districts in Breese and Litchfield, Strieker has also worked in Swansea’s Wolf Branch District 113 and in Bond County Unit 2.