Thursday, July 31, 2014

Robert Fellner: Pasadena Unified Superintendent Promoted, $55,000 Raise, Despite District’s Failing Performance

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Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) superintendent Jon Gundry has just been tapped as the new superintendent for the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE), despite PUSD’s failing marks under his tenure from 2011 to 2014. His base salary will rise from $240,000 to $295,000 with the promotion effective August 1.

In 2013, the PUSD received a 751 score on California’s Academic Performance Index (API), down from 762 in 2012. API scores range from 200 to 1000, with 800 the targeted goal. Additionally PUSD received an “F” grade in a report card issued by State Sen. Carol Liu, which assessed the school’s performance in serving its low-income and minority students. Their overall grade of “D” was not much better.

When discussing the declining API scores, Gundry cited a decrease in district revenue as responsible for the poor scores.

Recently published compensation data for employees in California’s K-12 schools by TransparentCalifornia.com sheds light on this claim. The data reveals that Gundry earned substantially more than other superintendents in the area, despite overseeing a district with significantly lower performance marks. Further, the median compensation of the District’s teachers was rising, not falling, and remained consistent with the level of similar districts within Los Angeles County.

The payroll data reported by most schools does not distinguish between full and part-time employees. As such, this analysis considers teachers that received at least $25,000 in salary as full-time. The median compensation for a full-time teacher in PUSD in 2013 was $90,092, an approximately 2.7% increase from the 2012 median compensation of $87,226. At the same time he was bemoaning district funding levels, Gundry also saw a similar percentage increase in his compensation, which rose from $291,717 in 2012 to $301,081 in 2013.

Other districts though, produced greater student achievement with lower levels of teacher and administrator compensation:


Liu’s report card cited nearby Baldwin Park Unified as an example for PUSD to look to and with good reason. In addition to earning a “B” grade from Liu, the district received an API score of 768 for 2013. The median compensation for a full-time teacher in the district was $88,861 in 2013. The district’s superintendent, Mark Skvarna, received $254,990 in 2013, which was actually a modest decrease from his 2012 compensation.

In the West Covina Unified School District, the 2013 median compensation for a full-time teacher was $84,374, with the superintendent receiving $266,281. The district’s 2013 API score is an impressive 831. Neighboring Burbank Unified earned an API score of 847 in 2013, while also having one of the lowest superintendent compensation packages in Los Angeles County. The median compensation for full-time teachers in the district was $91,401 in 2013, with the superintendent receiving $238,425.

So why is the highly compensated superintendent of a failing school district receiving a promotion and pay increase?

The SCCOE’s press release announcing the hire contained platitudes about Gundry’s experience and management style, but failed to mention PUSD’s recent academic decline.

Understanding the actions of a school board requires looking at the system itself. Beneath the seemingly straightforward goal of educating children lie competing political interests. Groups including the powerful teachers union, administrators and the school board are all competing for political power, money and control. Unfortunately it’s only rarely that the public education system rewards these groups for their ability to educate children.

School administrators then are often selected for their political skills and ability to manage or placate competing interests, as much as or more than for their education skills.

Based on Gundry’s promotion to become SCCOE’s new superintendent, it’s obvious his political skills are well-tuned. California’s students deserve a system that promotes education-based achievements, not political ones.

(Mod: This article first appeared yesterday on the California Policy Center website. Click here to check out a lot of similarly informative articles.)

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. With the PUSD you don't get what you pay for.

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  2. Typical government- always kick incompetence upstairs. Just promote them out of the mess they've made. Also typical government - when things fall apart due to inept management, always, always blame it on there not being enough money.

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    1. Sounds like the city. Always complaining about how little money they have, while at the same time they're giving themselves platinum $30k plus health care plans. Entitled and as far as accomplishments go - underwhelming.

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    2. But staff works hard. They said so.

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  3. I feel like a fool having worked on the public sector. I shoulda been a school superintendent. No measurable performance results required.

    Also, don't forget the Platinum Pension that awaits all these superintendents. $$$$$$$

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  4. Can you imagine a job where you earn top pay, and with nothing whatsoever tied to achievement? Then after stumbling around for a couple of decades you get to retire like a king. And people wonder why government doesn't work.

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  5. That's right don't forget about the pension they receive for life after being able to retire at about 50 years old or so. If they get a $250,000 per year pension with cost of living increases and free health care for the rest of their lives, you'd have to have assets totatling $5,000,000 spitting off an income at 5% to earn that kind of an income stream - all for not working for the rest of their lives. And then Grundy has the nerve to say that the reason for Pasadena's declining test scores is because of a lack of revenue. You can't make this stuff up. Our kids suffer and they get the gravy train. But we get what we deserve because we allow this to happen.

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    1. Thank you Robert Fellner & the rest of the Transparent California Team!

      Let me see if I get this straight. PUSD says it doesn't have enough revenue? Is this because they have to pay a boatload of pension contributions, especially for the admins at headquarters?

      Wonder when PUSD will have a news release on that.

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    2. Don't forget the consultants who get the work done while the big chiefs wait for their retirement to start.

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    3. Let's not forget staff who go out on paid leave when scandals break wide open....like the Measure TT one with Chief Azcarraga.

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  6. The "lack of revenue" didn't stop the Human Resources head Mendoza from getting a nice raise this year as well. The declining resources only seem to surface when it needs to go to the classroom.

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    1. Kids are just the hostages. The swag goes to the big dogs.

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  7. @ 9:00 the top heavy PUSD administrators in these times of declining revenues should be taking pay cuts instead of raises. Monies should be focused on the students which is what this is supposed to be about. Besides Gundry's whopping $240,000 and Mendoza's $154,000 here's a sample of the other top brass. Chief Finance Pappalardo $174,000 Chief Academic McDonald $154,000 Executive Dir Elem Onoye $134,000 Director of Special Ed $134,000.
    A 3% salary increase across the board for the entire district and they complain about shrinking resources?

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  8. http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/social-affairs/20140729/pasadena-unified-plans-to-file-a-lawsuit-involving-charter-school

    This will cost a good chunk of change.

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    1. heaven forbid that the PUSD should have any competition. don't want the minions to really have an opportunity to learn something. if the minions are properly educated, why they may no e as pliant as the PUSD needs them to be.

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  9. At the same time they cut substitute teachers pay!

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    1. Makes sense. The people who cut their pay are the ones who will use that money to fund their salary increases and cadillac pensions.

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    2. Gotta pay off the UTP union bosses!

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    3. Mayor Harabedian and Councilmember Goss would have it no other way.

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    4. Goss was for the Teacher Union and the $500 they gave him before he was against it.

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    5. Easy Gene returned the $500 but kept the endorsement. A violation of his campaign promise, but he said it was OK. Maybe Yolanda told him not to worry about it. She has seen far worse.

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    6. I love how Goss said he wasn't going to take outside endorsements or money, then applied and sat through the teachers' union interview. What a liar.

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    7. The postcard was right.

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  10. Somewhere along the line local government agencies changed from serving the people to serving themselves. We need to reverse that.

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  11. Does anyone know how much bond debt property owners owe for those various construction projects?

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    1. Measure Y & Measure TT? Wait, they'll be another bond issue coming.

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    2. My calculator doesn't have that many zeroes.

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    3. Maybe Bart knows.

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    4. From Pasadena Subrosa:
      APRIL 18, 2010

      PUSD MEASURES "Y" AND "TT" BONDS TAKE $1.18 BILLION OUT OF LOCAL ECONOMY

      Locally, those who want to give PUSD more money for schools should consider that Measure Y ($240 million) and Measure TT ($350 million) effectively total $1.18 BILLION after considering principal ($590 million) plus interest (typically double the principal amount).

      http://pasadenasubrosa.typepad.com/pasadena_sub_rosa/2010/04/pusd-measures-y-and-tt-bonds-take-118-billion-out-of-local-economy.html

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  12. He was not promoted. He was hired away by another district. Clearly Santa Clara did so knowing that there is more to measuring competence than a slight decrease in overall app which still puts the pusd on par with other

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    1. What more can a great educator be judged on than how much his students have learned? And where I come a new job that pays $55,000 more than the previous one can be called a promotion.

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    2. It's how one measures what's been learned, and whether the student is a willing subject. Not sure if that's a fair judgement for the educator.

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    3. In the private sector people are judged and paid on how they perfiorm their jobs. Public school educators are paid to teach. If they are not doing this successfully, then they have failed at their jobs. Seems pretty obvious to me. And judging by the large amount of PUSD parents who send their kids to private school, they seem to get it as well.

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    4. Does anyone notice how often Superintendents leave PUSD? How does that turnover rate compare to other districts? The previous 2 Superintendents for PUSD left in a flurry as well.

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    5. RE: "there is more to measuring competence than a slight decrease in overall app(sic)"

      Good point! See the next sentence after noting that PUSD had both the lowest API score AND highest paid superintendent:

      Additionally PUSD received an “F” grade in a report card issued by State Sen. Carol Liu, which assessed the school’s performance in serving its low-income and minority students. Their overall grade of “D” was not much better.

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    6. The pusd is a much larger district than the ones to which you compare.

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    7. RE: "The pusd is a much larger district than the ones to which you compare. "

      False.

      PUSD has approx 19,000 students and is SMALLER than Baldwin Park, which has over 20,000 students. Note, too, Baldwin Park was the district specifically highlighted in Liu's report card assessment and is the only one in which the superintendent saw their pay decrease.

      Burbank Unified has over 18,000 students. Finally, West Covina has approx 14,500 students.

      I'd like to see you find 4 school districts in LA County that are more similar in size and socioeconomic conditions than the 4 selected here!

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  13. Honestly, we all know that Pasadena Unified is struggling with serving low income students, that's the reason it's failing. And fixing that problems means having better people than the average person, not solving it with someone who takes the cheapest fee.

    The real reason things don't get better is because kids don't learn when they live in dangerous areas, when their parents are working all the time and not involved in helping them succeed, and at the administrative level even when there are good people in there, the politics, parents, community, all of it is very toxic and people leave before they really start being able to solve problems.

    We'd probably get farther if the larger community paid for after school programs and free meals for all students.

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    1. Cool. We have now seen a "blame the environment" and a "blame the students" post. What's next? No green vegetables in their diet?

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    2. I suspect that the kinds of things 12:35 is saying are also the things senior PUSD administrators tell themselves when assessing their failure to teach.

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    3. Who's being promoted into PUSD as the new Superintendent?

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    4. I blame the lack of green housing as well. Can the EENERs get on that right away?

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    5. Good question. Maybe the PUSD should hold a lottery? $5 a ticket, with the winner going on to win a low impact $300,000 a year job.

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    6. 1:43 - I am still waiting for that green job John Bucancan promised me.

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    7. According to the city website the water department is looking for somebody. I guess that would be a yellow job.

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    8. If it's yellow, let it mellow.

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  14. So many comments and most of them true. We talk and talk and talk. So, what can we do? Break the union? Start with our own town.

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    1. Cut off the money and repeal the UUT. The unions aren't interested if there's no $$.

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    2. We win sometimes. Look at what happened to measure UUT.

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    3. Wonder how much money the Police union will spend against the UUT repeal? Cha-Ching.

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    4. Start planning your strategy now. A few days ago, while walking through town, I overheard one of Sierra Madre's finest policemen telling captivated residents that the Council talked about contracting out to the Sheriff's dept. and that that was a real shame. They are already campaigning.

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    5. Sad to think that those charged with maintaining the peace here play so fast and loose with the truth. Especially when they're fibbing about the people they supposedly work for.

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    6. Gotta love it when active duty in uniform SMPD officers are lobbying the residents. Nothing legal about that. Didn't bother current Mayor Harabedian when hedid the same thing with his campaign postcard in 2012.

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  15. 1:45, we're 2 for 2 killing UUT increases. I hope Susan Henderson and the MVNews comes out against the UUT repeal, too. That'll help us win. Third time's a charm.

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    1. Susan's support is definitely an ingredient for disaster. Look at what happened to poor Noah. Ended up scaring the pants off of him.

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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