Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District headquarters. (Daniel Archuleta
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District headquarters. (Daniel Archuleta
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District headquarters. (Daniel Archuleta

SMMUSD HDQTRS — Three school district employees will make more than $150,000 this year, according to documents provided by public school officials.

Superintendent Sandra Lyon is the highest paid Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District employee, taking home $230,000 in base salary, which is less than the superintendents at most of the districts the Daily Press surveyed.

The average of the top 15 highest paid district employees is $139,732. Pasadena Unified School District’s top 15 earners average $138,160. At Beverly Hills Unified School District, the mean was $128,458 and at Burbank Unified School District it was $116,957.

No SMMUSD teachers made the list of the top 23 highest paid district employees in 2013-14 but 10 principals did. Santa Monica High School’s Eva Mayoral was the highest paid principal, bringing in $133,188 this year. Malibu High School’s Jerry Block made $123,684.

Teacher salaries follow a pay schedule, getting raises as they gain experience or degree credits. The pay schedules are generally renegotiated every three years but the school board hasn’t given a raise since 2008, said Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Debra Washington. This is due largely to the lack of funding available following the economic downturn.

About 87 percent of the district’s funding goes to employees, she said.

School districts generally have similar pay schedules, varying less widely than other public departments, because administrators look to other similarly-sized districts when deciding on pay, Washington said.

“They’re looking for comparables in size and complexity,” she said. “Generally, they look at the salary schedules and try to get in the ballpark.”

Teacher salary schedules are being negotiated now with the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association (SMMCTA).

“Coming out of the recession and massive cuts to K-12 education, SMMCTA is confident that we will be able to secure a pay raise for our members,” wrote SMMCTA President Harry Keiley in an e-mail.

Keiley would not comment on the current state of the negotiations or when they would likely be settled.

Smaller class sizes and good health benefits are top priorities along with the increased salaries, Keiley said.

The fact that no classroom teachers made the list of top paid employees is not surprising, he said, as management works year-round.

The teacher association compares SMMUSD salaries with salaries at other districts when negotiating, Keiley said, but Santa Monica and Malibu are unique.

“One of the things we have to be mindful of is the high cost of living around here, which can be particularly challenging for some of our newer teachers,” he said.

A first year teacher with a basic college degree makes $44,341 annually, according to the salary schedule on the district’s website. A teacher with 18 years of experience and 70 or more graduate level semester units can make $89,135.

Managers, like Lyon and Washington, who are also typically the higher paid employees, don’t follow a schedule like teachers, Washington said. It’s up to the Board of Education and the superintendent to decide when they get raises. When the teachers renegotiate their salaries, raises for managers are generally considered as well, she said.

“These district employees are working all of the time, and working hard,” Washington said. “While these numbers might look high, in my opinion, after several years in this business, they work really tremendously hard serving the needs of our schools.”

Board of Education member Nimish Patel agreed.

“I will tell you I see the work that our management does at the district and it’s a labor of love,” he said. “The hours they put in is amazing. I’m not sure exactly where they compare with other districts but I’m just really proud of what they do. They wear a lot of hats … . The work that needs to get done, gets done.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *