Meeting Held On Centinela Schools Superintendent's Big Paycheck

Meeting Held On Centinela Schools Superintendent's Big Paycheck

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The Centinela Valley school board is holding its second meeting since furor erupted over Superintendent Jose Fernandez's employment contract back in February.

The board is expected to go into closed session to evaluate the performance of the Superintendent, who has come under fire for amassing $663,000 in monetary and benefit compensation last year.

Parents and staff members had complained that the board had evaluated Fernandez only once since his contract was approved in 2009, despite other school boards evaluating their superintendents annually.

From Susan Hirasuna:

Embattled Superintendent Jose Fernandez opened the Centinela Valley Union High School District's meeting with this statement, "The last few weeks have been difficult and distracting.  I have heard the public's concerns.  I have heard the board's concerns.  I also know that the board and I have some tough discussions ahead of us about my compensation package."  He then went on to say, he would give up certain cash and benefits.

Fernandez has been under scrutiny since it was revealed his compensation for his work as superintendent was more than $600,000.  He took issue with that figure, saying, "that amount has unfortunately been misused by the media." Apparently, his salary and benefits are still pretty healthy, but last year he also received a one time reimbursement of $215,000 for a payment he made personally into the Public Employees Retirement System. 

Fernandez went onto voluntarily give himself a pay cut. He said, from March 1 until the end of the fiscal year, meaning July; he would

-not receive additional pay for work beyond  215 days

-not receive a management incentive going forward

-not receive a post graduate bonus going forwar5-d

-not receive a longevity aka an annual raise of 9%

-not receive a phone and car allowance

He claims, these are "significant give-backs" which means his annual salary would go down to $295,000 a year. His offer did not receive an enthusiastic response.  Once public comments began, it became clear that the students, parents, teachers and others were not happy that he was ever allowed to collect such an exorbitant salary and benefits.  He was allowed to cash out his vacation days, he could work beyond and be compensated for days worked over 215.  His pension contribution's were reimbursed.  In fact, a good many people blamed the board itself for ever approving such generous compensation. One Lawndale HS student told the board she was appalled that the members would actually blame parents for not being more involved.  She said, her parents work two and three jobs to keep the family fed and housed.  She said, her mother speaks only spanish and when she would translate for her all that's happening in the district, her mother is appalled.  "You're supposed to take care of us, the students." 

After hours of public comment, the board finally broke for closed session to figure out how to legally allow Fernandez to reduce his compensation package.  And, according to the board President Maritza Molina, "I for one also want to reassure the public that the superintendent's voluntary concessions are NOT the end of the story.  I am determined to make additional progress in resolving this controversy."

Here's a link to Jose Fernandez' contract.  It was posted Tuesday evening:

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