PUSD set to approve new superintendent’s contract

PASADENA
- Despite constant public gripes about the state’s gutting of funds
for public education, the Pasadena Unified School District board is
set to approve a contract in excess of $240,000 for new
superintendent Jon Gundry.

Gundry’s
base salary is $240,000. His perks include a $600 monthly travel
stipend; a $500 monthly expense account; $250,000 of term life
insurance and a $15,000 contribution to a retirement annuity which is
tied an annual performance review.

The
contract is all but identical to the package given to former
Superintendent Edwin Diaz
, including the retirement bonus.

Diaz
never accepted the $15,000 bump in his retirement annuity, even
though he was offered the benefit each year he was at the district.

Gundry’s
salary dwarfs those in the adjacent districts and begs the questions
whether PUSD should offer less generous compensation in the face of
such staggering budget cuts (district officials claim the state has
shorted PUSD $30 million during the last three years).

The
reaction by school officials at the PUSD and beyond is that the
salaries are necessary to attract qualified candidates.

School
and city officials point to salaries in other municipalities as the
foundation for the argument that the high salaries are needed to
“stay competitive.”

But
what this leads to is a salary bubble of sorts, where compensation
packages are inflated to match the generosity of neighboring
municipalities and school districts.

The
bubble bursts when public employee pension systems are broke, as is
the case across the country, and the fiscal condition of public
institutions are stretched to the breaking point.

Public
service is not a charity and none of us expect that executives should
not be compensated for their expertise and work.

But
should public executive salaries be of the sort to make
administrators and high-ranking city officials wealthy, even as the
very programs they oversee are cut to the bone?

What
do you think? 

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