The more than 100 angry residents who attended the Centinela Valley Union High School District board meeting this week were in agreement that $663,000 in annual compensation was way too much for district Superintendent Jose Fernandez and they wanted something done about it.
They did not receive satisfaction at the meeting.
Fernandez, who was hired in 2009 and renewed in 2012, wouldn’t talk much about it, according to the Torrance Daily Breeze, other than to say, “I do hear you. I’ve listened very carefully and I will sit and work with the board on your concerns. I want to thank you all for coming here and expressing your concerns.”
The Los Angeles County South Bay school district has 6,600 students, so Fernandez’s compensation works out to about $100 per pupil. In comparison, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy has a total package of nearly $390,000, or about 60 cents per student.
The former Inglewood city councilman makes more that President Barack Obama, thanks to a colossal package of perks on top of his $271,000 base pay. He received a 40-year, $910,000 loan with 2% interest from the district to buy a home, a generous pension, the right to cash out vacation days and a guaranteed 9% annual pay raise.
Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Association President Jack Foreman told KPCC that teachers have received a combined raise of 2.75% during the time Fernandez has been superintendent. “We’re just appalled,” Foreman said.
Fernandez works about 215 days a year, which the Breeze reporter deemed light, compared to the 245 or so days other superintendents put in. That puts him in position to take advantage of the contract clause that pays him for days worked beyond 215. A clause that allows him to add five years to his tenure, by purchasing “air time,” would boost his pension substantially.
Impressive government employee compensation packages like Fernandez’s are not unheard of. Robert Rizzo, former chief administrative officer for the tiny and poor city of Bell, managed to extract an annual $1.5 million package. He pleaded no contest to 69 felony corruption charges last year and faces 10 to 12 years in prison. He is expected to be sentenced next month.
No one is accusing Fernandez of doing any of the illegal stuff for which Rizzo and five fellow Bell political leaders were convicted. But Rizzo was the poster child for arrogant, overcompensated public officials as well as criminal behavior in government.
Four of the five members on the school board participated in the unanimous vote that approved Fernandez’s original contract.
When a KPCC reporter asked Assistant Superintendent Bob Cox what, if any, measures the district might take to address complaints from the public, he said, “We've chosen not to do anything in response.”