Special to Tri County

WEST CHESTER - The outgoing business manager of the Owen J. Roberts School District will be paid the $443,000 retirement package approved by the school board, according to a de-cision by a Common Pleas Judge sent to attorneys last Tuesday.

Thomas W. Helwig, a resident who lives within the boundaries of the district, had filed a lawsuit against Denny Bolton and the members of the school board, seeking to block the payment.

Judge Robert J. Shen-kin ruled the board acted within the limits of the law.

"In order for a court of equity to grant relief," Shenkin said, "it must clearly be shown that the school board acted outside the scope of its statutory authority or not in good faith ... It is not for the court to review the judgment of the Board of School Directors except in limited circumstances not present in this case."

Helwig, a former U.S. Marine who currently works as a consultant for Boeing, argued the case himself before Shenkin at a hearing last month. He contended Bolton is obligated to work through the end of his contract and is not entitled to a leave of absence since he is not returning to the school district afterward.

Bolton has been OJR's business manager for 27 years. He announced his retirement earlier this year. His contract with the school district was not scheduled to expire until June 30, 2007.

According to the terms of his "transition resolution" approved by the school board in March, he will take a one-year leave of absence beginning July 1.

During that time Bolton will be paid his entire annual salary of $152,965.

After his contract ex-pires Bolton will be paid for 90 vacation days, valued at $52,545, and 410.5 unused sick days, valued at $239,662. He also will receive free health insurance benefits through June 30, 2012.

Under the terms of Bolton's employment contract, he may elect to convert the cost of any or all fringe benefits into basic salary or retirement benefits.

"Where ... the actions of defendants are lawful on their face," Shenkin wrote, "we cannot look behind those actions, as the plaintiff would have us do, to recast the actions into unlawful activity."

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