Former Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom has repaid $50,000 of his salary to the Johnston County School system. Johnston County School Board Attorney Jimmy Lawrence notified WTSB Radio on Thursday of the repayment.
In a front page article Sunday in the News & Observer, the paper reported Dr. Croom received an extra $25,000 in 2014 and another $25,000 in 2015 towards an annuity to cover a potential loss in his pension if he decided to retire.
Dr. Croom retired in February and without the pension cut.
In a statement to WTSB Radio, the school system announced Thursday, “Dr. Ed Croom… has voluntarily repaid the sum of $25,000 that he received in June 2015 pursuit to changes in the retirement laws. Furthermore, in addition to that sum, Dr. Croom also remitted payment for the sum of $25,000 in payments he received in November and December 2014 that were made to him pursuant to the changes in the retirement law.”
“In ongoing conversations with Dr. Croom, he realized the extension of the QEBA law in late 2015 eliminated the need for the payments made by the Board of Education in his last contract extension. Upon the request of the Board to return the funds that were placed in his annuity, and with Dr. Croom’s prior consideration to do so, Dr. Croom prompted remitted the funds to the Board of Education.”
“The Board appreciates Dr. Croom’s consideration of this situation and his prompt repayment of these sums,” according to the statement released Thursday.
The $25,000 payment was one of several perks the superintendent received. Due to his large salary, Johnston County taxpayers are responsible for $508,000 for his state retirement.
According to the article, Dr. Croom was eligible for another $25,00 annuity payment this year but turned it down. It was unclear if the decision was made before or after the News & Observer investigation began.
The school board allowed about $44,000 in perks for Croom to be converted into salary so it would counts towards retirement. Among those items were $1,250 a month for a car allowance and $255 per month for a cell phone. According to the N&O, Dr. Croom’s annual pension will be about $141,000 a year or $11,750 per month based on 30 years of service.
County commissioners have been critical of the school board for not disclosing the half-million dollars Johnston County taxpayers will have to fund towards Croom’s retirement.
According to the report, two other school system employees will exceed the salary cap if they retire soon, potentially costing taxpayers more money.
They include new superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow who is paid $215,022 and Chief Operations Officer Patrick Jacobs whose salary is $135,886. Renfrow, according to the News & Observer, was given the same contract Dr. Croom had, allowing for the same perks to pay conversion.