Hamilton Schools issue $25,465 check to former CFO Kranz - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Former Schools CFO Kranz also got $18,000 "signing bonus"

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Tommy Kranz & Jim Scales Tommy Kranz & Jim Scales

By David Carroll



Eyewitness News has obtained new details of the employment agreement signed by Tommy Kranz, Chief Financial Officer for Hamilton County schools from May 2007 until February of this year.  Superintendent Dr. Jim Scales, responding to numerous requests for more information, issued this statement to Board members:

"Mr. Kranz did receive $18,000 for relocation expenses.  Legal counsel was sought to ensure that I had the legal authority to approve this payment. Mr. Kranz received credit for the appropriate administrative experience outside the Hamilton County Schools as granted by the Memorandum of Agreement.  As approved by the Board, earned vacation leave was capped at 1,680 hours.  However, there was not a cap placed on the dollar amount paid for unused vacation hours."
The actual document refers to the $18,000 as a "relocation/sign on bonus."  The agreement also specifies that Kranz was to receive the maximum vacation time of 24 days annually, a perk usually given only to employees with 20 years experience.  Additionally, he was given 3 annual days of personal leave, 11 paid holidays, and 12 sick days each year.


Tommy Kranz recently left his position as Chief Financial Officer of Hamilton County schools, but not without a substantial parting gift.  After initially delaying our request for information, school officials confirmed a payment of $25,465.88 to Kranz for "accrued vacation leave" that had accumulated during his 45 months on the job.

Although the Memorandum of Agreement between the School District and the Hamilton County Department of Education states that employees with less than ten years service can only earn a maximum of 12 days (90 hours) per year, Kranz is being reimbursed for 63.5 days (476 hours), at his hourly pay of $53.44.  He was employed by the School District from May 2007 until February 2011.  One School Board member said that when Kranz was hired, Superintendent Jim Scales arranged for him to have 24 vacation days per year, usually available only to employees with 20 or more years of employment.  Kranz's annual salary was $104,217.22.

At a Tuesday work session, Board Chairman Everett Fairchild expressed anger over what he called "delays" in obtaining information from Dr. Scales on Kranz's contract and vacation time. 

Kranz, now CFO of Chattanooga-based ERMC,  told Eyewitness News, "When I was hired Dr. Scales placed me on the top salary scale, with the applicable number of vacation and sick days.  This was consistent with my previous position.  It is my understanding that this step-up was done for all individuals brought in at the Assistant Superintendent level."  Dr. Scales has not responded to our requests for the number of vacation days taken by Kranz during his employment, or details of Kranz's contract.

Fairchild was not pleased to learn of the $25K payout to Kranz, saying, "Nobody seems to know how many days he took.  When you have to ask the employee how much time off he had, something's not right." 

Eyewitness News first received information on the amount of Kranz's payout on March 18, but was unable to get an answer from Communications Director Danielle Clark until this week.  District 1 Board member Rhonda Thurman appealed to School Board attorney Scott Bennett.  Mrs. Thurman said Bennett advised the Superintendent's office to "cooperate fully because this is public information."  She said, "It's just another example of the runaround we get all the time.  It's not just the media, the School Board can't get any information either."

It was Mrs. Thurman who first raised the issue of exorbitant vacation day payments in 2007, resulting in changes to the Board's policy.  Caps have been placed on payout amounts for employees who were hired after July 1, 2008.  But she says the Kranz payout shows there are still "problems and loopholes."  She says, "You would think someone over there is keeping track of vacation days of these Central Office administrators, but I think they get pretty much whatever they ask for.  It may be too late to save this current administration, but I think we have a majority of School Board members who will be more careful about who we hire the next time."  Mrs. Thurman says she has also heard reports that Kranz received an $18,000 signing bonus when he took the job in 2007, "but I can't get anyone in charge to confirm or deny it.  No one seems to know anything."

Dr. Scales' current contract expires in June 2012, but he will reportedly be vested in the Tennessee retirement system in June of this year, and some Board members have speculated that he might leave before the end of his contract.  Dr. Scales has repeatedly stated his intentions to fulfill his contract.

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