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California lawmaker wants to stop 'excessive' school superintendent pay

Jose A. Fernandez, superintendent, Centinela Valley High School District
Jose A. Fernandez, superintendent, Centinela Valley High School District Centinela Valley Union High School District

Prompted by reports in the Daily Breeze last month that the Centinela Valley Superintendent was paid $663,365 in total compensation as the top executive of the 6,637 student high school district, Torrance area state assemblyman Al Muratsuchi has introduced a bill that would prevent excessive school superintendent salaries.

“I want to set up a system so that we can prevent abuse and ensure greater transparency and accountability in school districts throughout the state,” Muratsuchi said in a written statement.

The bill would require county offices of education to review superintendent compensation each year, a web site posting of superintendent compensation, and restrict school districts from giving low interest home loans - one of the things that boosted Jose Fernandez' pay so much.

His 2009 contract - approved by the Centinela Valley school board - included an option for a 2 percent loan Fernandez used to buy a two story, four bedroom house, according to the Daily Breeze. He was also reimbursed for costs of beefing up his pension.

The school board defended the contract in an op-ed, saying Fernandez led the district through a period of great academic improvement and that the board vetted the superintendent’s salary through lawyers and took other measures to ensure public transparency.

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