Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) today introduced Assembly Bill 280, which places a three-month cap on the severance pay of a school district superintendent. Currently, when a superintendent’s contract of employment is terminated, he or she is eligible for a severance pay of up to 18 times their monthly salary, which can potentially be very costly.
“The combination of high paying salaries and high superintendent turnover is an issue that does not receive enough attention,” Alejo said. “The two factors combine to create a problem of excessive severance packages at the expense of students and taxpayers.”
The annual salaries of the highest paid school district superintendents ranged from $265,773 to $322,159, according to a press release from Alejo's office.
"Moreover, a recent study published in December 2012 found that 71 percent of superintendents in California’s largest districts—and 45 percent of all superintendents in the state—left their jobs between 2006 and 2009," the press release states. "Despite the fact that K-12 education currently receives the largest share of the state’s volatile general fund, schools still struggle to operate during the academic year."
Alejo plans to amend the bill before to include a provision that would place limits on a paid leave of absence for superintendents. This is in response to a controversial decision made by the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District that would grant the outgoing superintendent a paid leave, according to the press release. The superintendent’s paid leave is estimated to be around $93,000 for the remainder of the year—which is an addition to the cost of finding and hiring an interim superintendent.
“Considering the state’s fiscal hardships, these are amounts that schools cannot afford to pay,” Alejo said. “By placing limits on cash settlements and paid leaves for superintendents, we can save money for students, begin to improve our schools administrative processes, and demonstrate fiscal discipline in the administration of taxpayer dollars.”
AB 280 will be eligible to be heard in a California State Assembly policy committee after 30 days of being in print.
Luis Alejo represents the 30th District in the California State Assembly, which consists of the Salinas Valley, Monterey County, San Benito County, South Santa Clara County and the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.