Opinion

Angry residents protest $400k in perks slipped into school superintendent’s salary

Yvette Lindner
Resident Yvette Lindner expresses her rage at school board / Photo credit: Daily Breeze

Residents were understandably furious when a local paper reported that a school superintendent had received over $660,000 in compensation last year, as well as a sweetheart low-interest loan just shy of a million. They took their frustrations out on both the superintendent and the school board Tuesday.

Jose Fernandez was hired as superintendent of California’s Centinela Valley Union High School District at a generous $271,000 annual salary. But apparently it wasn’t generous enough. When a local paper, the Daily Breeze, disclosed that Fernandez’s total compensation was $663,000 for 2013, an emergency school board meeting was hurriedly called so that residents could voice their concerns, the Breeze reported.

Concerns? Outrage was more like it, as depicted by the news footage provided below. One can only assume that they had to check their tar, feathers and pitchforks in at the door.

“I can’t believe in the post-Bell era of high compensation that my own school district was paying an enormous salary to the superintendent,” resident Cynthia Mosquada said, according to the Breeze, which prompted loud cheers from others. “I hope this board makes a change. If you don’t, the people here will be campaigning in the next election and we will” make a change.”

The Breeze reported:

In response to the residents, board members voiced a range of sentiments. They expressed regret, pleaded ignorance, defended the district’s progress under Fernandez, and hinted that changes to the contract will be made.

“When the article came out, I reflected back and said: ‘This amount is large but the $271,000 was what we voted on,” board member Hugo Rojas said. “I know my colleagues personally, that we would not knowingly give that high a salary.”

In addition to the salary, the board floated Fernandez a 2 percent, $910,000, 40-year loan to purchase a home in an affluent neighborhood in the district. A previous bankruptcy would have made standard bank financing problematic.

The district comprises three high schools, serving 6,500 students. The meeting attracted about 100 residents after only two days notice. The next regularly scheduled board meeting is March 11.

Watch the news report via local station KCAL channel 9, then check out “CNN finally gets face-to-face showdown with Ted Nugent; he’s armed and ready.”

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