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Commentary by Ken Pfalzgraf
| Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

KenPfalzgrafPreface: I am an Acton resident and an observer of the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District (AADUSD) school board. In this piece, I look into the compensation package and responsibilities of the AADUSD superintendent in comparison to his regional peers. I discover some interesting answers to the question: “Who is doing what for how much?”

 

Most people have one of those songs from their childhood that made them cringe every time it came on the radio, which seemed like every five minutes. I’m talking about the one song that you’ve spent decades trying to wash from your brain. And then something comes along to remind you of the song, and it starts all over. My song is “Jenny.” You know the song: “You give me something I can’t hold on to / I know you think I’m like the others before who saw your name and number on the wall…” I swear I’m going to snap right now just thinking about it.

What jogged this song back into my memory? It started with me wondering how much the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District superintendent gets paid. Word on the street is that it’s about $17,000 per month in salary and benefits.

In these days when there is an increased expectation that public agencies will operate in a transparent manner, I expected to find the AADUSD superintendent’s compensation package information, along with information for the rest of the AADUSD administrative team, on the AADUSD website. Not finding it there, I turned to the Transparent California website (http://transparentcalifornia.com), which posts compensation information for the employees of public agencies. You can even find me, Kenneth Pfalzgraf, if you care to.

Oddly enough, there is no information for AADUSD or its employees anywhere on the Transparent California site. Seeing that I’m dealing with an administration that is not held accountable to participate in typical public transparency processes, I decided to see if I couldn’t get the information from a trustworthy source.

I contacted AADUSD’s oversight agency, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and asked for the comparison report for the superintendents that LACOE oversees. LACOE informed me it has no information regarding the value of benefit packages or bonuses, only posted salary ranges. LACOE sent me [this]. I hit the California Department of Education website to find out the number of students each superintendent is responsible for (i.e. enrollment), as well as how many school sites they manage. The Cal Ed search engine is here: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/content.asp.

Not wanting to end up with something unmanageable, I narrowed down the list to the AADUSD superintendent and any superintendent that makes the same or less than the AADUSD superintendent. Here’s what I got:

 

pfalzgraf1

Next, I divided each superintendent’s salary by their district’s enrollment. In the case of AADUSD, I found an error in the state’s enrollment listing. The state lists the district’s enrollment at 2,383 students, but AADUSD is reporting a current enrollment of 1,083 (see page 2 of this LACOE letter).

 

pfalzgraf2

Anyway, I ended up with a chart that shows how much of the funding for each student goes to pay the superintendent in each district where the superintendent makes the same or less than the AADUSD superintendent.

My analysis tells me the AADUSD superintendent is making out pretty well for the number of students in the AADUSD. For example, in comparing AADUSD to “sister district” Newhall, we see that the Newhall superintendent makes about 10 percent less than the AADUSD superintendent, even though the Newhall superintendent has three times the number of schools and an enrollment six times larger than AADUSD.

To be clear, the AADUSD board pays its superintendent $168 per student (1,083 students) while the Newhall school board pays its superintendent $24 per student (6,831 students).

Looking through the rest of the numbers of the LACOE superintendents who make the same or less than the AADUSD superintendent, it seems only one school board is willing to pay a superintendent more per student than the AADUSD board. Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union (HELUS) pays its superintendent a whopping $518 per student for managing a system that has one-third the number of schools and one-quarter of the enrollment of AADUSD. Sounds like easy money until you discover that the Hugh-Elizabeth Lakes Union superintendent is paid 25 percent less than the AADUSD superintendent ($130,956 versus $181,672). Worse yet, if you’re the superintendent at Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union, you’re also the director of education and student services, the chief financial officer, the director of transportation, AND you are the principal, too. In AADUSD, these positions are staffed at additional costs. To add insult to injury, at Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union, they actually expect you to show up to work each day to do those other jobs and to be the superintendent, too.

On second thought, it sounds like AADUSD is the place to be if you’re a superintendent.

I know there will be a few questions about my math, so here’s the FAQ part:

 

Q: How do the numbers change if we credit the AADUSD superintendent with the number of students listed on the California Department of Education site (i.e., including charter school students)?

A: AADUSD drops one spot down the list, this time behind the Wilsona district where the superintendent makes 33 percent less than the AADUSD superintendent for managing 13 percent more students and for filling several roles that AADUSD staffs at additional cost.

 

Q: Why weren’t superintendents who make more than the AADUSD superintendent considered?

A: Are you kidding me? Was the marijuana dispensary in Acton your idea, too?

 

Q: In addition to the cost of their salaries, do the other superintendents run up legal fees to the tune of $474 per student?

A: Would you?

 

Q: Pfalzgraf, we know you’re from Vegas. Do you have a gambling tip for us?

A: If they can ever get the director of education and student services who resigned in January off of the payroll, put your money on Mr. EX as the shoe-in replacement.

 

Q: Why is this happening?

A: Ask the AADUSD board of trustees.

 

Q: How come the Inglewood district pays its superintendent just 45 percent of what AADUSD pays its superintendent, even though Inglewood has five times as many schools and 12 times as many students as AADUSD?

A: Inglewood went into receivership. They have an appointed superintendent who doesn’t care about anything other than bringing the district out of receivership. Just be patient. AAUSD might get that kind of a deal, too.

 

Q: Pfalzgraf, what triggered the Tommy Tutone fit you were throwing at the start of this article?

A: The district code for AADUSD in the California Department of Education and LACOE databases is 75309. (Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WTdTwcmxyo).

 

Ken Pfalzgraf is an Acton resident.

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11 Comments

  1. Who ok’s the superintendent’s compensations and pay increases. And why would they allow his compensation package to be extremely high compared to other superintendents. Weber okays his compensation and pay increases shouldn’t they be brought into question as to why they’re paying him such a huge salary

  2. Who ok’s the superintendent’s compensations and pay increases. And why would they allow his compensation package to be extremely high compared to other superintendents. Weber okays his compensation and pay increases shouldn’t they be brought into question as to why they’re paying him such a huge salary

  3. Castaic Parent says:

    The superintendent for Castaic makes $300k and they have four schools. They are mid-managed and in a $4.1 million dollar deficit. They will be laying off 46 teachers this year and the superintendent refused to step down or take a cut in pay.

  4. Ken Pfalzgraf says:

    The AADUSD board of trustees approves the superintendent’s salary and is ultimately responsible for the superintendent’s performance and that of the administrative team.
    How would you feel if there were someone standing between you and the cashier at the grocery store, taking three cents of every dollar of your food money and doing absolutely nothing for it? If I were an AEA parent in AEA SCV, I would be concerned about the declining local (Acton/Agua Dulce) support of the out of boundaries charter plan, especially when about 8% of the funding for each local AADUSD student is being routed to the superintendent’s salary or legal fees related to the “plan” which serves no purpose for the local AADUSD student. The LACOE letter linked in my post shows anticipated drops of another 20% in the AADUSD local enrollment in next two years. This means another 20 local teaching and staff positions will be lost. How can the locals in Acton and Agua Dulce support the charter school plan when their own kids and neighbors are the ones bearing the burden?
    I am in a unique position. I have a daughter that left AADUSD and who is now thriving at an AEA campus. I have another daughter on special education placement out of AADUSD. While one daughter is doing fine, we have to watch that the special education budget is not being raided for other causes while the AADUSD administrative team claims “special education encroachment on the general fund”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, AEA needs to find a fiscally stable and administratively mature sponsor. The AEA brand is not benefitting from this relationship.
    In terms of a compensating a superintendent, I would hope that a school board is wise enough to consider the going rate for the area, how many students are served and what quality of curriculum is being provided to those students. I’m not sure I’d be paying top dollar if the local offering is failing and my superintendent is eyeing the horizon with binoculars for a cut off of students the superintendent will never meet, much less influence the educations of.

  5. Ken Pfalzgraf says:

    What is the difference between Oliver North and voters? Voters can recall.

  6. Josh says:

    I am shocked and disappointed that the CUSD Superintendent won’t voluntarily take a HUGE pay cut, maybe a deferral at least.
    #BadBobGibson #shameful

  7. Judy says:

    Mr. Pflazgraf……your personal vendetta against AADUSD is simply annoying for someone who doesn’t even have his kids attend the schools. I am confused by your motive and why you are so completely rude. Many superintendents base salaries are low and include a TON of bonuses and perks that make their salary a lot larger. Funny you didn’t include those. Most Superintendents have a PHD and deserve good compensation for putting up with people like you.

    • James says:

      I couldn’t agree with Judy more…. It’s become quite apparent that Ken has a either an unhealthy obsession with the administration in AADUSD or a deep seeded personal vendetta. It’s become more National Enquirer and slanderous rather than informative. Ken seems to forget where the district was just a few years ago and what a mess it was before Dr. Woodard and his staff arrived. Of course there are bumps along the way but the district has rebounded and we have never been happier with the education my children receive. I for one am tired of listening to your empty rhetoric and many parents share my sentiment. I’m sure you will get your dictionary out and write a scathing retort with more skewed facts but frankly I just not interested any more unless your willing to come clean on what your real issues are.

  8. K Pfalzgraf says:

    Judy,
    Thank you so much for your comments. Typically, I am not portrayed with this degree of kindness; know that I’ll hold a special place in my heart for you henceforth.
    As usual, you are correct Judy. The salary listing for the AADUSD superintendent paints only half a picture. The other half would include the value of bonuses, pay for performance, retirement contributions by the district, cash outs for administrative and/or sick leave. Since this information is not listed on the AADUSD website and since AADUSD chooses not to participate in the Transparent California program, I was not able to obtain this half of the puzzle without filing a records request. Not sure that AADUSD wants it out there, but your wish is my command.
    I’ll be filing a California Records Request Act action to obtain the AADUSD superintendent’s employment contract and amendments as well as the documentation of the value of the perks you listed. In addition, I’ll seek to obtain the value of the salaries and benefit packages of the administrative team. I’ll be sure to cc the AADUSD board president, the LACOE superintendent and State Superintendent of Education in my request. Once I have obtained the information, I’ll share either the details in an upcoming piece or print the denial notice, whichever AADUSD chooses to offer up. I’m thinking I should ask LACOE for a breakdown of the $441,000 in legal fees that AADUSD has been required to budget for this year as well.
    I’m not sure that this additional information will lend to a picture that the AADUSD superintendent is a “deal” in comparison to his local peers, especially those with more physical school sites to manage that hold much larger enrollments, but let’s give it a whirl.
    If my motives are unclear, let me help. I don’t recall voting for a school board that allowed a superintendent to chase a dream that would result in the district’s students being saddled with legal debts to the tune of approximately $500 per student, while teachers are being laid off and the special education budget hacked at. If I’m not happy with the board that runs the superintendent and there are enough people that share my opinion, we just seek to get the recall of the board on the ballot come fall. Can I have you proof the narrative or should we just mark you off as not wanting to sign right now?
    Again, thank you for your suggestions Judy. They only serve to enhance my work. In the future, please feel free to call me Ken.

  9. Ken Pfalzgraf says:

    James, paging Mr. James. I am truly happy that you are having a positive experience at AADUSD. If you actually read what I wrote and feel that the LACOE and Cal Ed data that I use to document my observations are faulty or that my math produces a skewed outcome then just say that. If you find my humor annoying then just say that. If you think that a drop in enrollment from 1696 in 2010/2011 to an anticipated 833 in 2016-2017 is a turnaround then good for you pardner (oops, lost my dictionary).
    If I find that your moving testimony on the superintendent’s program providing little solace to the AADUSD teachers (maybe even your own child’s teacher) who are watching $500 dollars of resources for EACH STUDENT in their classrooms squandered on legal fees then I’ll just say that. If I think that, given the superintendent’s ranking in my charts, the superintendent should share the wealth a bit by taking a pay cut so that money could be budgeted to give the teachers and support staff a bit of a raise, then I would say that but I don’t have to; the LACOE budget report said it for me (pg. 2). If I don’t think that the 20 full time equivalent teachers and their support staff that will be handed permanent pink slips in March for the next two years will be comforted much by your great confidence in the superintendent then I’ll just say that too. If you think the superintendent is worth what they are being paid then run for school board; there are others there that share your passion.
    Let me guess, my gibberish is dropping the bottom out of the district’s enrollment. BTW, next time, let’s not name staffers by name. I don’t even do that. Best not to get personal. You’re shooting the messenger James, but he’s still alive.

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