"If you're the average citizen who is making less than $100,000 a year, you look at that and say that's a lot of money," he added. "But when you look at CEOs around the country, it's peanuts."

But Alonso's perks had become a point of contention in the school district — which serves one of the poorest and lowest-performing student populations in the state — particularly when The Baltimore Sun found that his driver made a higher salary than the mayor or the governor when his overtime was added in.

Other perks in Alonso's contract included a car and a $750 monthly stipend for automotive expenses. He also received another annual payment equivalent to 40 percent of his salary — $104,000 for each of the past two years — that under his contract was to be paid into a "supplemental income program" of his choice.

The schools chief also was given performance bonuses of $29,000 per year under his first contract, which he earned in each of his first three years. This year, the administrators union urged him to return the bonuses in light of allegations Alonso made that schools had cheated during the time he was awarded for rising test scores.

Alonso's 2011 contract did not outline specific bonuses, and he did not receive them in his last two years in the district. But the contract did increase his annual contribution of supplemental income from 35 percent of his salary to 40 percent.

Sauls said the board is not required to provide any payments beyond the unused leave, although per his most recent contract, the school system will pay Alonso's health insurance benefits until it is confirmed that he receives them at his next job.

The board said Alonso's accomplishments, particularly the General Assembly's passage this year of a landmark plan to fund the system's 10-year infrastructure plan, contributed to its decision to allow him to give less than 60 days' notice of his resignation.

His contract called for 90 days' notice, but the waiver allowed him to break his contract without penalty.

Spalding also questioned that move.

"If the board is bending over backward to give this guy a golden parachute when he goes out the door, it does raise questions about them holding administrators accountable," she said.

In Anne Arundel County, departing Superintendent Kevin Maxwell's contract required him to pay the system $20,000 because he did not give 90 days' notice. After seven years in the county, Maxwell left before his contract was to expire in 2014 to take the helm of Prince George's County schools.

Like Alonso, Maxwell received a car stipend to pay for all vehicle costs and contributions into supplemental income accounts; however, he did not have a driver and the contributions into such accounts were capped at $20,000 annually.

Prince George's County will pay $15,000 of Maxwell's penalty, and he will have $5,000 deducted from his accrued-leave pay, according to Anne Arundel officials.

According to Maxwell's $257,000 contract, he could accrue and cash out 47 days of vacation, sick and personal days per year. However, he could not accumulate more than 15 personal days total and was not entitled to cash out the personal days if he left the district.

A longtime educator in Maryland, Maxwell had previously accrued 261 days of sick leave in other school districts, which he was able to transfer to Anne Arundel County.

The final tally of Maxwell's accrued leave was not available because his last day isn't until Wednesday.

erica.green@baltsun.com

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