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Discussion could lead to increase in superintendent’s pay

Current $178,294 salary not too high, trustees say
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The Placer County Board of Education will discuss raising the superintendent’s pay Thursday night, and some Auburn residents have strong concerns. Superintendent Gayle Garbolino-Mojica currently makes a base salary of $160,934 a year. She also receives $8,760 in benefits, an annual $7,800 car allowance and an annual $800 for holding a master’s degree. Her total annual compensation is $178,294. She also has a $95,000 life insurance policy. Item 14 on the Placer County Board of Education meeting agenda for Thursday night is an information item addressing Garbolino-Mojica’s salary. “Per Board Bylaw 9600 annually in December the board will agendize the superintendent’s movement to the next salary step, unless otherwise directed,” the agenda states. “This movement is at the discretion of the board.” If Garbolino-Mojica were moved to the next salary step her base pay would be $168,894. If all other compensation items stayed the same, she would be making a total of $186,254 annually. Auburn resident Kathy Baxter said she doesn’t think the board should consider a raise. “Looking at her pay in and of itself is one thing, but looking at giving her an increase is a whole different issue,” Baxter said. “This is not the time to be giving anybody any increases.” Garbolino-Mojica said in 2008 and 2009 her salary did not move up to the next step in pay, and she kept discussions about her salary off the board’s agenda. “In the last two years I was not interested in placing it on the agenda … so I purposefully kept it off the agenda,” Garbolino-Mojica said Wednesday. This year Trustee Ken Tokutomi asked the item to be included again, Garbolino-Mojica said, and it will be included from now on. “We are just going to annually agendize it,” she said. The superintendent’s office is not making a recommendation either way, and Garbolino-Mojica said she is not expecting a raise. “I don’t expect … an increase,” she said. “If they want to be talking about it, that’s fine, but I’m not going to be pushing it.” Tokutomi said a Sept. 28 Auburn Journal article inspired the board to want to review Garbolino-Mojica’s pay. Tokutomi said he wouldn’t vote for a decrease in the amount, and he thinks Garbolino-Mojica merits her pay, because of the size of the organization she runs and the duties she has. “I don’t think it’s prudent to be reducing it,” he said. “I don’t think she’s overpaid. Quite frankly, I think she is doing a great job.” The board may look at conducting a study to see if Garbolino-Mojica’s salary is in-line with those of other county superintendents, and this could be a part of Thursday night’s discussion, Tokutomi said. Baxter said she understands it’s important to try to retain people by keeping pay equivalent to what others are making, but the matching process may never end. “At the same time we are asking people to hold bake sales … just to keep the programs going for the kids,” she said. “That is a lot of money. That is a heck of a lot of money. So somebody is making more, so we pay this one more … so it just keeps going up and up.” Baxter said she thinks the position should make $80,000 or $90,000 at the most with a few good perks. At the moment, Tokutomi said he wouldn’t vote for a pay increase. “I don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said. Tokutomi said Wednesday he wasn’t aware what Garbolino-Mojica’s current pay was or what her salary would be at the next higher step. Trustee Robert Tomasini said he would need to hear discussion from other board members before he could form an opinion about the subject. “If the board wants to do a study before anything happens, that seems reasonable to me,” Tomasini said. “I think (her pay) should be comparable. I think that is a fair thing to do. I don’t know what reason there would be not to move her to the next step. She hasn’t moved for two years. In a sense she took cuts by not moving. I don’t know if she’s the only one.” Tomasini said he doesn’t think Garbolino-Mojica’s current pay is too much. “Knowing what superintendents are making, that is not high,” he said. Auburn resident Deborah Crespillo said she doesn’t think Garbolino-Mojica should get a salary increase. “I think it’s too much,” Crespillo said. “She already makes enough.” Auburn resident Craig Lechman, a special education teacher with the Office of Education, said he hopes the board is careful in making any future decisions about the superintendent’s pay. “Considering the times we are living in, and our current situation, I would be extremely cautious about doing any increases,” Lechman said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Placer County Board of Education meeting When: 7 p.m. Thursday Where: Burns Room, Placer County Office of Education, 360 Nevada St., Auburn Information: Call Placer County Office of Education at (530) 889-8020