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California School Fiscal Services

Providing comprehensive business office and consulting services to K-12 traditional schools and charters

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New law caps superintendents final pay

Posted on September 8, 2015 at 5:50 AM

It's not good for our industry when laws have to be passed to keep us "in line".  

Remember, just because you have the power doesn't mean you should be using it.  Most especially, when you benefit from it personally. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one else is looking.  Don't let that truth slip away from you!

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By Claudia Meléndez Salinas, Monterey Herald

POSTED: 09/03/15, 3:59 PM PDT 

 

Introduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 215 on Wednesday. The legislation will limit severance packages to one year of salary. Previously, the cap was at a year and a half.

 

The bill also eliminates any cash settlement any superintendent may receive if he or she is found to have been engaging in illegal fiscal activities.

 

Alejo originally introduced this legislation in February 2013, and it sought to limit severance packages to the equivalent of three months salary. Also, in response to developments at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, where former Superintendent Marilyn Shepard had just retired, Alejo sought to limit paid leaves of absence for superintendents. The final bill contains no limits for superintendents who take leaves of absence.

 

“It was challenging enough to get the bill through in this narrow form,” Alejo said. “It would be more difficult adding other categories.”

 

Shepard announced in December 2012 that she would retire at the end of the school year. A few weeks later she was granted a leave of absence until then. Her yearly salary at the time was $223,315, and her leave-of-absence pay was about $93,000.

 

Alejo sought to limit payouts to superintendents after a report by the Sacramento Bee that listed the highest-paid school administrators in the state. The bill faced fierce opposition by the Association of School Administrators, and the current bill was achieved as a compromise, Alejo said.

 

“They also wanted the new standard to apply to other managers,” Alejo said, referring to city managers and other high-paying administrators. He may be amenable to seeking similar legislation in the future, he said.

 

As example of the golden parachutes, Alejo cited the case of Esperanza Zendejas, who received $337,000 in 2005 when retiring from the East Side Union High School District. Zendejas later worked for the Alisal Union School District, where she was later ousted by then Board President José Castañeda.

 

Alejo believes the bill will be a good tool for schools to save money and use it for instruction.

 

“It’s a good accomplishment and it would better ensure that the scarce education dollars are not spent in golden parachutes and keep resources for our students,” he said. “This is a good fiscal discipline bill making sure dollars go in the classroom.”

 

The bill will take effect Jan. 1.

 

Claudia Meléndez Salinas can be reached at 726-4370.

Categories: Ethics

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