SPRINGFIELD TWP. A high school social studies teacher admitted to stealing thousands of dollars in union funds and agreed to pay back the missing amount, plus a 10 percent penalty, according to minutes from a November meeting with the board of the Springfield Local School District's teachers union.
The alleged theft was brought to the attention of Springfield Local Association of Classroom Teachers (SLACT) board members during a special executive session Nov. 16.
In meeting minutes, which the Suburbanite obtained this week, it was stated that longtime teacher Bill Burket, who was SLACT's treasurer, apologized for the theft of what he estimated was $14,000.
"SLACT bank accounts are missing money," the minutes stated. "Mr. Burket read a prepared statement and apologized for taking money from the account. He estimated the amount to be around $14,000. He plans to make whole the money within one month's time. A discussion ensued between the executive committee and Mr. Burket about how it happened and why. At 4:40 p.m., Mr. Burket left for the committee to have a special executive session to discuss the matter. At 5:25 p.m., a motion was made to make a deal with Mr. Burket. The motion was carried by a seven to six vote."
Details of that deal included:
• The $14,000 must be reimbursed to SLACT by Jan. 3, along with a 10 percent penalty.
• Burket can never again hold an elected office.
• If the total agreed upon amounts are not paid in full by the mentioned date, SLACT would proceed with full prosecution.
• A recommendation that Burket seek help with his "problem."
• If it is determined through audit that additional monies had been taken, then Burket would have 30 days to pay back that money with a 10 percent penalty or face prosecution.
At 5:49 p.m., following the SLACT board's executive session, Burket returned and accepted the terms, according to the minutes.
Teachers pay money to SLACT for various uses, including helping to provide scholarship funds for students wanting to continue into the field of education. SLACT members also hold fundraisers, such as the Faculty Follies event, to supplement scholarships for students.
A report, dated Dec. 5, was filed with the Springfield Police Department. It stated that Burket had pilfered and cashed $12,325 worth of SLACT checks.
Because Burket lives in Canal Fulton and that is where the alleged stolen checks were cashed, the Canal Fulton Police Department has been handling the investigation.
No charges have been filed, and there is no record that any money has been repaid.
Burket was sent a letter Dec. 8 from the Springfield Board of Education stating that effective Dec. 12 he would be placed on paid administrative leave during an audit of his records by an outside agency. The letter from Springfield Superintendent Chuck Sincere also stated that during the investigation and until further notice, Burket would not be permitted on school property or to attend school activities. The ban included the performance of any duties under a supplemental contract.
Burket was bowling coach and a class advisor, as well as clock operator for football games. He also worked with the soccer and football teams. At the Jan. 10 Board of Education meeting, Burket's resignation as bowling coach was accepted.
A Springfield High School graduate, Burket has taught in the district for 25 years. His yearly reviews mostly have been positive; however, he has been written up at least three times for misconduct since 2003, according to his personnel file. None of those incidents were related to SLACT funds.
Burket's annual salary is $76,912 along with a supplemental contract of $1,481 for his roles as a class advisor and his coaching duties.