October 25, 2010; Source: Des Moines Register | Last week we wrote about how the taxpayer supported Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) was bringing a lot of attention to itself, and much of it unwanted, by resisting requests from state lawmakers to disclose records about how much former employees had been paid. Now maybe we can understand why.

As an example of the IASB’s apparent generosity to employees, records obtained by the Des Moines Register reveal that the retirement package for the former head of the association, which provides financial and other services to school districts around the state, will total $1,119,974. The newspaper reports that amount includes direct contributions from the IASB as well as investment gains. According to one official, former director Ron Rice’s retirement plan is more generous than anything the state offers its employees. “Wow. I tell you, it just seems excessive to me,” said state representative Clel Baudler, who serves on the oversight committee currently investigating claims that IASB paid some executives outsized salaries.

The best that the group’s current executive director could say in defense of Rice’s retirement pay is that people don’t have enough information to really judge if the amount is fair. “Does it seem like a lot of money? It can when you don’t know everything,” said Veronica Stalker. “Just to look at that number, cold, it can look like an awful lot of money. But unless a person knows what went into that, I don’t think we can just make statements from our gut without knowing what we’re talking about.”

That may be. But still, the number stands in stark contrast to what state employees receive for retirement. The paper notes that a state worker who earned what Rice did in his last year, $214,000, every year for 13 years, would have received between $193,349 and $276,809 in contributions to his or her retirement plan.—Bruce Trachtenberg