Centinela Valley High School District superintendent Jose Fernandez earns more in total compensation than President Barack Obama–$271,000 in salary, plus nearly $400,000 in benefits (Obama earns $569,000.) The taxpayers and the unions are outraged, but the school board unanimously approved his contract in 2012 after Fernandez was credited with turning the district’s finances around and improving test scores in two schools.
Fernandez’s office would not speak with Breitbart News about the story. “At this point, we have no comment,” said Bob Cox, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. However, Cox told the local Daily Breeze’s Rob Kuznia, who broke the story on Feb. 8, that Fernandez had saved the Los Angeles district from bankruptcy and a state takeover: “We were one payroll away from being taken over….This really was a scary place.”
Critics are already comparing Fernandez’s compensation to the corrupt salaries and benefits that officials in nearby Bell awarded themselves–a scandal that led to multiple convictions on corruption charges. As in Bell, Fernandez helped raise taxes on residents–albeit with the overwhelming support of the local community in a 2012 referendum. It is not clear that there is any corruption in the Fernandez case–just good negotiating.
Though the sheer scale of the compensation (plus a very generous home loan) seems staggering for an urban school district, private sector executives often enjoy large rewards for high performance. Fernandez earns more than President Obama, but he has also done a better job of managing public finances. His latest public statement is a post about the district’s financial health. There may be better targets for public outrage.
Update: The Daily Breeze’s editorial board is furious at the amount of compensation, and says that Fernandez and the school board are “looting” the district: “Nothing illegal, but it’s immoral for the leader of a small school district serving communities where the median household income ranges from $33,000 to $49,000, to siphon off $663,000 in taxpayer money in a single year…even if Fernandez did save the school district from near-insolvency, as his supporters claim, that doesn’t give him or the board the right to loot the district now.”