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A closer look at top MDUSD administrator contracts and trustee benefits

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at 12:02 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Although the Mt. Diablo school district has posted the contracts for administrators being suggested Monday for extensions, these documents do not show the total cost of employment to taxpayers.

Based on information received by the Times from the district for 2011, here is a breakdown that shows base salary and “other” compensation, along with gross salary, Medical Dental Vision, “ER” (I’m not sure what ER stands for, but this equals the Total Pension costs), Misc. Benefits, Total Cost of Employment, then Total Pension.

Superintendent Steven Lawrence
Contract amount: $249,500 (with option to have portions paid to supplementary retirement or tax sheltered annuity)
Base Pay: $245,982.18
Other: $2,629.92
Gross: $248,612.10
MDV: $19,617.86
ER: $20,510.41
Misc. Benefits: $3,583.23
Total Cost of Employment: $292,323.60
Total Pension: $20,510.41

General Counsel Greg Rolen
Contract amount: $166,219.44 Dec. 1, 2009-June 30, 2010. As of July 1, 2010: $190,000 (with longevity increases in each of the fourth, eighth and 12th years of employment)
Base Pay: $186,857.06
Other: $3,499.92
Gross: $190,356.98
MDV: $19,617.86
ER: $24,589.22
Misc. Benefits: $9,235.77
Total Cost of Employment: $243,799.83
Total Pension: $24,589.22

Bryan Richards, Chief Financial Officer
Contract amount: $140,000 as of July 1, 2010 (with longevity increases in each of the fourth, eighth and 12th years of employment)
Base Pay: $139,184.70
Other: $1,080.00
Gross: $140,264.70
MDV: $15,783.38
ER: $18,121.82
Misc. Benefits: $8,607.57
Total Cost of Employment: $182,777.47
Total Pension: $18,121.82

Rose Lock, Assistant Superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support
Contract amount: $140,000 as of July 1, 2010 (not including longevity increases and stipends for advanced degrees; with longevity increases in each of the fourth, eighth and 12th years of employment)
Base Pay: $142,529.80
Other: $9,680.64
Gross: $152,210.44
MDV: $15,648.87
ER: $11,964.91
Misc. Benefits: $2,135.58
Total Cost of Employment: $181,959.80
Total Pension: $11,964.91

Julie Braun-Martin, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Services
Contract amount: $140,000 as of July 1, 2010 (not including longevity increases and stipends for advanced degrees; with longevity increases in each of the fourth, eighth and 12th years of employment)
Base Pay: $139,097.87
Other: $8,854.20
Gross: $147,952.07
MDV: $19,483.35
ER: $11,647.10
Misc. Benefits: $2,071.95
Total Cost of Employment: $181,154.47
Total Pension: $11,647.10

The total cost of employment for these five administrators is over $1 million, at $1,082,015.17.

Board President Sherry Whitmarsh is not recommending extending the contract of Mildred Browne, assistant superintendent of special education and student services, who earns $164,431.88 gross and has a total cost of employment of $189,299.75, including benefits.

For comparison purposes, the only other administrator who earns as much as these top cabinet-level administrators is Deb Cooksey, associate general counsel, who earned $150,640.99 gross and has a total cost of employment of $196,657.78, including benefits.

The board will also consider capping trustee benefits at the employee-only rate. Some trustees opt out of benefits coverage, if they receive it through their other employment.

Here is a look at Medical Dental and Vision benefits paid to trustees in 2011, along with salary and total cost of employment:

Trustee Gary Eberhart
Base Pay: $8,630.57
MDV: $14,661.06
Misc. Benefits: $425.84
Total Cost of Employment: $23,717.47

Trustee Linda Mayo
Base Pay: $8,664.00
MDV: $14,341.52
Misc. Benefits: $407.43
Total Cost of Employment: $23,412.95

Trustee (now Board President) Sherry Whitmarsh
Base Pay: $8,630.57
MDV: $1,560.08
Misc. Benefits: $660.22
Total Cost of Employment: $10,850.87

Trustee Cheryl Hansen
Base Pay: $8,664.00
MDV: $0
Misc. Benefits: $662.77
Total Cost of Employment: $9,326.77

Trustee Lynne Dennler
Base Pay: $8,630.57
MDV: $174.46
Misc. Benefits: $125.61
Total Cost of Employment: $8,930.64

The total cost of employment for the five trustees is $76,238.70. Trustees Gary Eberhart and Linda Mayo appear to be paid benefits in excess of the single employee rate.

In an effort to cut costs, the board previously eliminated benefits for employees who work less than four hours a day.

Do you believe taxpayers should pay more in benefits for trustees than they pay to part-time employees working less than four hours a day?

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59 Responses to “A closer look at top MDUSD administrator contracts and trustee benefits”

  1. g Says:

    NO- and ‘ER’ is the Employer’s contribution to the employee’s Pension!

  2. Doctor J Says:

    The Big5 is a Million-Dollars-a-Year ! Eberhart and Mayo cost twice as much as other trustees — they cut other employees health insurance but save their own

  3. Doctor J Says:

    These amounts don’t count 2012 Bonus payments for reimbursement of furlough days deducted but not taken during year 2011-12.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Big5 Vacation Days = 120 days per year total; more than one half of the entire work year.
    Big5 Sick Days = 60 days per year total; more than one-fourth of the entire work year.

  5. Anon Says:

    Thought the supt has a housing credit to live in the district-question has that been a worthwhile investment?

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: The superintendent’s contract includes a $25,000 incentive to purchase a home in the district boundaries by Jan. 31, 2011. It is my understanding that he met this requirement and received this benefit in 2010.
    That amount is just a bit more than what taxpayers spent in total compensation each for Eberhart and Mayo last year.

  7. Seriously... Says:

    Out of the bunch…Bryan Richards, CFO, is underpaid.

  8. g Says:

    Keep in mind, these are the salaries from 2011. Most of the contracts allow for Longevity increases every 4 years-tied to their initial hire date, which some will get this year, some next year.

  9. g Says:

    This district really needs to switch employees to a 401K or something similar. Public employees are lucky if their company gives them from 50cents to a dollar, per dollar -up to a max of 6%- of their own contribution to retirement.

    These people are getting from 8-13%!

  10. g Says:

    According to the Bee, the new Supt. at San Juan in Sacramento gets a salary of $225,000.00 for 47,000 students at 70 schools. Lawrence is waaaay overpaid.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    @G#10 Significantly, the prior Supt earned $261k and the new one takes a cut to $225k for 47,000 students compared to MDUSD’s soon to be 32,000 students.

    Perhaps more significantly, the new Supt outlines the “secret” to a successful district, NONE of which MDUSD has: “Isn’t being the leader of a school district very stressful right now? It is stressful. You need a trifecta: a strong, stable board; a strong partnership with labor groups, and community buy-in. I have these.”

    “Why do you think the board decided you should be the superintendent?
    They are sending a message that stability in learning is critical. The district’s strategic plan is important, and I know it the best. The community and board also wanted someone with a track record in instruction.” MDUSD has none of these.

    “What program at San Juan Unified makes you the proudest?
    The visual and performing arts programs. Every school has some sort of program. It’s important for forming 21st-century learners and leaders. I’m extremely proud of it. Music and bands are the first cuts at most districts.” Does MDUSD have VAPA at every school ?

    Read more here:

  12. Doctor J Says:

    @TH Are there 100 people at MDUSD over $100,000 ? You said yesterday that Tim Cody ranked #11 in terms of total compensation in 2011 at $152,138.75 and Mitchell Stark was #33 with $130,195.88. With Principals and senior tenured teachers, I am thinking there could might be over 100 employees “over a $100,000” ! Way top heavy.

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad has sent me an email saying that he also believes the new board should decide whether to extend the contracts.
    Also, I have heard that the teachers’ union may be out in force tonight, delivering the message: No contract for teachers = no contract for the superintendent.
    Regarding music, there is no more district-provided instrumental music in fourth and fifth-grades. At Sequoia Elementary, middle school music students instruct elementary students in music after-school, as part of a volunteer program started by a former 8th-grader who is now a student at Acalanes HS (he requested a transfer out of MDUSD).
    I believe the district may have also tried to negotiate away elementary vocal music prep periods, but was unable to get that concession.
    The efffect of no elementary music will begin to be felt this fall, when students with no elementary instruction will have the choice of taking beginning band. In the past, students who took band in elementary grades were more likely to continue music in middle school. It’s quite possible that music programs in middle school and high school will begin to suffer now that the elementary pipeline has crumbled.
    Although one of Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s major accomplishments was passage of Measure C and the oft-touted largest K-12 solar project in the country, no MDUSD school was chosen as a “Green Ribbon” school in the newly announced first-ever awards. Only one northern CA school made the cut — Athenian in Danville.
    It takes more than solar panels to be considered “green.” It also takes a commitment to sustainable practices in conjunction with a strong environmental curriculum.
    Regarding salaries over $100,000, I realized after that post that the rankings were according to gross salary, not total compensation (although there is a strong correlation in most cases).
    Obviously, there are more employees with total employment cost over $100,000 (including benefits) than with a gross salary over $100,000. I will check that and post an update. I will also try to get 2011 comps in other districts from our database manager.

  14. Anon Says:

    Elementary music cuts impact the middle schools where for the first time they’re teaching beginning classes, and that affects how many and what other music classes can be offered. Over and over we urge how important sports and music are for keeping students in school and developing the entire person, beyond filling in test bubbles, but this district doesn’t give a —-. The district would need to pass a parcel tax to support these programs as other districts have like Acalanes, but where’s the MDUSD parcel tax? No Dent Center raises until there’s a parcel tax!

  15. g Says:

    I don’t know about other districts, but I can’t think of anything more flat-out stupid a district could do than actually “arrange” to have your top five or six administrators contracts come due on the same date! Lawrence was contracted for 3yrs 4months, Rolen 3yrs 6 months. The others 3 yrs exactly.

    Talk about purposely shooting yourself in the foot!

    Do we know when Dr. Browne’s contract is expiring? Maybe she has had sense enough to move on and just let Sue Brothers have her spot? Or maybe she’s been ‘encouraged’ to do that.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe Browne’s contract expires at the same time. When the contracts were approved, Trustee Linda Mayo and then-Trustee Dick Allen voted against them, saying the new superintendent should be able to choose his team.
    Tonight’s agenda item suggests that Browne is not expected to be a long-term member of that team.

  17. Jim Says:

    Bottom line, extending the Lawrence and Rolen contracts for an additional 3 years will mean that the next board would face an additional $1.6 MILLION in termination costs to undo Sherry’s proposed measure. (At least $1.6 million — more depending on Dr. J’s point about annual increases implemented between 2011 and next year.) You can be sure if the next board tried to change out those execs, many people would hesitate to put that expense on the district. The next board would be under pressure to just let them stay.

    This proposal is irresponsible — and unconscionable. Good to hear that the union may finally stand up to these people at a board meeting. This is not just a travesty for taxpayers. Front-line teachers and staff are also hurt by all of this expensive incompetence and underhanded self-dealing.

  18. Anon Says:

    G, I hope you are right that Browne will move on but if Brothers takes her spot you can be assured the District will go down the swirling toilet with SP. ED. law suits.

    I hope MDEA protests tonight but I do have to point out who it was that wanted Gary and Sherry in the positions they are in.

    Theresa, will you be doing a live blog tonight? I can’t make it there and want to know about the contract extensions.

    Anon 14. A parcel tax will never pass here! Not with the leadership we have and the fact that we are now going to have to pay double what was promised.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    I think MDEA will back off tonight after the District offers the union a sweetheart deal today. Eberhart doesn’t want the newsreels there tonight for “film at 11”. 🙂 Gary is likely to vote against the raises after he is assured, through backroom negotiation, that Whitmarsh, Mayo and Dennler will vote for the raises. Believe me, this is all orchestrated. If that happens, the recall petitions for Mayo and Dennler should get new life.

  20. g Says:

    Anon: Yes the Unions did back the Gary/Sherry conjoined candidates. But then, they saw, and heard loud and clear, that what they espoused in their campaign was no more than empty campaign “promises”. Cutting teachers, employees and neighborhoods off at the knees, while hoarding the reserves and building solar was their true intent.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#16 Mildred’s contract expires June 30, 2013. Read the Board Minutes on the Detail of Dick Allen’s comments in the meeting of Nov 17, 2009 — those are the kind of minutes that tell the story of what happened ! No wonder Gary doesn’t want them — he can’t flip flop on issues.

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Since Dennler says she ran to represent teachers, it would be surprising to see her vote for the contracts, if the teachers’ union publicly opposes them.
    Regarding Jim’s point, $1.6 million is more than the cost of closing three schools. Could a new board afford to buyout the contracts?

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board will also discuss televising meetings tonight, as requested by Hansen. As you know, previous recordings provided by Eberhart and former Trustee Paul Strange have all been removed from the Internet. Since they were never board-funded, the board and district did not own them and could not archive them.
    If the district would start televising board meetings, that would eliminate the need for me to try to videotape portions of the meeting and I would be better able to live blog.
    I’ll try to live blog tonight, along with videotaping and tweeting if possible.

  24. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#22 Lynne Dennler has been heavily influenced by Linda Mayo and Rose Lock in their weekly campus “tours”. Remember Dennler saying “she was told not to read the blogs” — by who ? Linda Mayo. Remember Dennler was told not to keep notes — by who ? Gary Eberhart — “they can be subpoened”. Her fears of the “benchmark testing” have been calmed by Rose Lock. I believe she no longer sees herself as the champion of the teachers — but like Linda Mayo, an extension of the staff to support whatever adventure staff is on. She really is out of her league.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dennler voted against Mayo and Eberhart regarding the charter petition. She also urged the district to provide busing to Glenbrook students during the school closure process.
    She was aware of problems at other campuses when she suggested that a committee be established to deal with such issues before they ended up in charter petitions (or votes of No Confidence).

  26. g Says:

    Extending contracts-hopefully a lot of speakers, Accelerating the Bond sales-hopefully a lot of clarifying Q&A, Health benefits for board members-hopefully a lot of speakers. Theresa, bring extra batteries. It may be a long night!

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have no doubt it will be a long night. It remains to be seen if anyone will acknowledge the Williams complaints about inadequate restrooms.
    And don’t forget the EL Master Plan, BOC annual report and new censure bylaws….

  28. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    TH @23 – if the district televised the meetings again I think we’d still have the same long running issue of not having the detailed minutes (nor will we see any audio or televised recording) posted in a timely manner.

    Regardless of the medium used to capture the district meetings, this ‘board secretary’ has an incredibly poor track record of ever capturing and posting district meeting minutes of any kind. Televising a meeting won’t excuse him of continuing to be responsible for capturing / publishing meeting minutes.

    And because of this track record, I would hope someone continues to record / capture video even if the district finally starts to televise on their own again. Nothing will be put in place to stop the district from not televising (oh, gee. The equipment isn’t working) a meeting, nor from editing, ‘losing’ or simply not posting a recorded meeting.

    For those of us unable to attend the meetings, audio and video capture is absolutely needed. Tone of voice, body language and dialog as it happens are important indicators and telling information about the direction this district and board are headed.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#25 I think that was the last time Dennler voted against Eberhart — maybe Lynne received one of Gary’s famous tirade phone calls like LL used to get. Since that time Lynne has refused to second some of the most benign motions made by Cheryl Hansen, like extending the time to complete the agenda one evening. Maybe it will be such a long meeting, that they won’t even get to some of the agenda tonight. I notice you never quote Lynne Dennler — does she even return your phone calls or answer your emails ?

  30. Jim Says:

    I certainly hope that supporters of CVCHS show up tonight to protest the proposed contract extensions. You may think your struggle with MDUSD is over and it’s time to move on, but when it comes to charter schools in a district like this, it is NEVER over. CVCHS created the biggest blot yet on Lawrence’s professional record — the first teacher-trigger conversion in Northern CA, and with a middle-income school no less! Schools like CVHS are not supposed to be candidates for conversion. Parents and teachers in those schools are supposed to be happy, or at least obedient and compliant. The conversion was a bad omen for traditional schools everywhere in CA, and educators all over know that it was Lawrence and MDUSD mismanagement that let that camel’s nose into the tent. He may be almost unemployable right now (a virtually unprecedented feat in the world of public school supes!).

    An extension for Lawrence and Rolen will give them time to recoup from the CVCHS defeat. (Remember, most public school “contracts” are one-way options: the district is obligated to pay them, but the employee can leave for another job anytime they find something better.) While they are here, they will undermine CVCHS however they can, of course, but if the charter fails for ANY reason, they can be around to take credit for it and be redeemed. CVCHS Supporters: they are not done with you yet.

    P.S.: Remember the various figures Lawrence threw around about what CVCHS would “cost” the district? Now we know what he was saving the money for.

  31. g Says:

    Theresa, I believe there’s a delay in Williams Act quarterly report of complaints, and those that we see now are carryovers. When the loud complaints from MDHS hit the fan, these complaints were just being sent, and were too late to make the last report.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Yes, these complaints are old, but nonetheless telling.
    They do not reflect well on some district leaders whose contracts are up for extensions.

  33. g Says:

    Those same district leaders were clever enough to fool the board into giving them contracts that state that the District must give them each 6 months advance notice of non renewal, or there’s a hefty penalty, but the employees only have to give the District 45 days notice (60 days for Lawrence) and there is NO penalty even if they only give 1 day notice!

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: That language could be changed in new contracts, if anyone suggests amendments.

  35. g Says:

    Not if Cheryl suggests it~~~

  36. Doctor J Says:

    @G#31 The first Williams Act complaint was received the day after the Board meeting where students complained but not filed on MDHS. It was filed by an employee of the CC County Office of Education. The second Williams Act complaint was filed by Annonymous a week or so later about MDHS after “toiletgate” went viral. Complaints made to the State of California other departments do not show up as Williams Complaints. Something to watch tonight might be the number of Consent Items pulled for discussion, and who pulls them. I wonder if the Board By-laws limit the time that a Board meeting can be extended ?

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The rest of the board has not shot down every one one of Hansen’s ideas.
    Tonight, trustees are considering how to hold the public input meetings that were her idea. However, her plan to allow the public to address the board about the superintendent and board’s job performance has been changed dramatically because General Counsel Greg Rolen said that could violate the Brown Act, since the public would not know specifically which topics would be addressed.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#37 That’s because General Counsel Rolen obviously has not read Board By-law 9220 which talks about all different kinds of meetings that can be held by the Board, other than a Board Meeting: “Study Sessions, Retreats, Public Forums, and Discussion Meetings
    The Board may also convene a retreat or discussion meeting to discuss Board roles and relationships.
    (cf. 2000 – Concepts and Roles)
    (cf. 2111 – Superintendent Governance Standards)
    (cf. 9000 – Role of the Board)
    (cf. 9005 – Governance Standards)
    (cf. 9400 – Board Self-Evaluation)
    Public notice shall be given in accordance with law when a quorum of the Board is attending a study session, retreat, public forum, or discussion meeting. All such meetings shall comply with the Brown Act and shall be held in open session and within district boundaries. Action items shall not be included on the agenda for these meetings.”
    I wish Greg would start reading the Board By-laws. Also, I wish he would start reading his own contract that he is not to do his outside business during regular business hours.

  39. Jim Says:

    All this Brown Act talk is getting a little tiresome. Has ANY district EVER been prosecuted for violations, except perhaps as part of some larger series of egregious misdeeds? No one ever MAKES public school districts actually follow the letter or spirit of the law, unless some special constituency’s ox is getting gored. We can all complain, but most opinion leaders and politicians are still too sympathetic to all of the woes of our “poor school districts” to actually pursue small bore stuff like Brown Act violations. Personally, I care a lot more about the caliber of leadership that wastes millions every year and seems so indifferent to the education of our children. The Brown Act stuff just seems like another unappetizing side dish in this disgusting banquet.

  40. g Says:

    Dr. J: As for pulling consent items–unless someone from ‘outside’ brings something to their attention they never even see the discrepancies. Like last month when they agreed to this year’s request to auction off both fair and junk vehicles.

    It isn’t unusual to have something that didn’t sell last year be included this year, but who (but me) would notice that at least three of the vehicles with the same VINs were described differently this year? Either the size or year of the buses don’t match from year to year. Maybe NBD, but still…maybe it is indicative of total lack of oversight by the one in charge.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe that Trustee Gary Eberhart stated twice during the same meeting recently that he would not commit a misdemeanor by violating the Brown Act. He appears to be worried that someone might prosecute him for it.

  42. g Says:

    What Gary did on that occasion was show that he’s not above “hiding” behind the Brown Act, but then “violating” it when it suits his needs.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    @G#40 I am waiting for the day when a member of the public pulls a consent item for discussion — because then there is no time limit on the member of the public in engaging in the disucssion ! @TH#41 Thanks for the prompt about Gary worrying about being prosecuted — I have been trying to figure out that other than thier political affiliation being the same, why do I think of Gary when John Edwards name is mentioned — it must be Gary’s smooth talk and good looks. 🙂

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Alicia Minyen has commented on a consent calendar item in the past, as has John Parker.
    In both of these instances, I believe a board member then pulled the item for discussion.

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just spoke to board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad, who gave me permission to post the contents of an email he sent earlier in response to this blog post:

    “Public trust and confidence are at an all time low and this Board thinks it can ram rod decisions on the residents of MDUSD. There is no way the Board can convince us that we should extend a contract that is not set to expire for 14 months yet and take away an issue that should be dealt with after the November elections. The low performance of our students (not all students) may be an issue to take up with District staff. The new Board may have different ideas at which direction the District should be heading. Giving out extensions could hamper that direction, and send the wrong message.

    The absurd way this Board is dealing with each other, such as censures, further exasperates us all. Come out to Board meeting Monday night and VOICE your opinions and distrusts.”

    Please note that I am posting this at the request of DeTrinidad and this post reflects his opinion, which I am not endorsing. It is my understanding that he intends to begin posting his own comments in the future.

  46. Doctor J Says:

    Not only does the public have the “right” to pull a consent calendar item on its own, but the public also has the right to “directly place” an Agenda item on the School Board calendar ! Gotta love that Ed Code ! “It is the intent of the Legislature that members of the public be able to place matters directly related to school district business on the agenda of school district governing board meetings.” Ed Code 35145.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    Don’t forget this gem in Board By-law 9323: “The Board shall not prohibit public criticism of its policies, procedures, programs, services, acts or omissions. (Government Code 54954.3) In addition, the Board may not prohibit public criticism of district employees.” Know of any acts, ommissions, policies, services or procedures of the Board you don’t agree with ? Have any public criticism of district employees ?

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Ernie DeTrinidad has officially announced his candidacy:

  49. Doctor J Says:

    Bienvenido a Ernie !

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a new blog post that includes some trustee insights on the contract extensions and revisits Hansen’s Points of Order:

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