DOWNEY - Within the past three years, to stave off further teacher layoffs, the Downey Unified School District was able to effect savings from the early retirements of many long-serving key personnel, incumbent administrators have had to do double-duty, programs got axed. Even now the district has had to operate on a deficit, slowly endangering its reserves, even as the whole district is on austerity mode.The cold reality is that all salaries - and this means all salaries district-wide: from the lowest-paid classified employee's to the district superintendent's - have been frozen since 2007-08. This according to Kevin Condon, assistant superintendent of business services, whose own salary of $180,000 per year has stayed put (he joined DUSD on Sept. 14, 2004). So is that of Jerilyn King-Brown, assistant superintendent of educational services, who also gets $180,000 per year (she has been serving in the position since Jan. 1, 2004). The salary freeze also applies to Superintendent Dr. Wendy Doty, who assumed the position on July 1, 2003, and whose annual compensation as of 2007-08 stood at $216,769. The salaries of these top three DUSD administrators (comprising the 'executive team') appear high, and they are, but published salary structures for unified school district administrators statewide reveal that their salaries are competitive. In Doty's case, for example, her $216,769 salary compares just slightly above the 2007-08 state average of $216,356 for district superintendents of unified school districts with a minimum enrollment of 20,000 students. When they joined DUSD, they were each given four-year contracts, renewable every year. In Doty's case, year-to-year extension of her contract is at the behest of the school board. In the case of the two assistant superintendents, Condon and King-Brown, their contracts are reviewed and renewed each year by the joint action of the board and the superintendent. In the most recent board of education meeting held last July 26, part of the approved consent agenda mentioned the three administrators getting their contracts extended to June 30, 2015, so formulated because of their running four-year contracts. It was at this point that board member Don LaPlante emphasized that, to negate any speculation, nowhere was the word, 'salary raise', mentioned. The salaries of administrators below this tier (they include those of the senior director of personnel services, high school principal, department directors, elementary school principals as well as vice-principals, on down to the psychologist category), hew to accepted statewide salary standards (with allowances made to '5-step' factors such as experience, length of service, extra degrees earned, etc.). Thus, the annual salary range of senior director of personnel services Roger Brossmer, is $122,503-$132,814, while that of the psychologist position commands $86,118-$93,366. The salaries of the rest of the positions fall between these ranges. In general, all district personnel (according to whether they are considered full-time or part-time), receive the same benefits package (insurance, medical, and vision coverage, including stipends). And should the bargaining units get a percentage increase, the same percentage increase applies across the board. Condon stressed that neither one of the executive team (superintendent and the two assistant superintendents) has enjoyed any allowances or stipends from the beginning ("No expense account, no phone privileges, no mileage or transportation allowance"). The salaries of classified administrative personnel (ranging from $11,260 a month for senior director of budget and finance, to $3,661 a month for food service supervisor) are negotiated through the Personnel Commission, while the salary schedules of certificated teachers (whose salaries range from a high of $94,246 to a low of $62,602) are negotiated through their teachers' union; those of the Unit I classified personnel category (from budget and financial analyst, who gets $5,109 a month to food service helper, who gets $2,228 a month), as well as Unit II classified personnel, with the network specialist position getting $5,549 a month and a custodian getting $3,643) who in general are found in the lower salary scales, is likewise administered by the Personnel Commission. Since DUSD is a merit system district, a standard district mantra is that students, parents, and the community are getting the most bang for their buck. Also, whatever success or distinctions the district may enjoy, even in the face of difficulties, the important role the DUSD board (each of the seven board members gets about $482 per month, plus "actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of duties") has been performing all these years can never be taken for granted. It's their enlightened and dynamic policy mandates that continue to provide effective direction to the district. Then it's up to Doty to lead in the all too vital task of educating young minds.
********** Published: August 11, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 17