Santa Rosa school board to consider salary increases for superintendent, other district officials
Some teachers and school staff members are voicing anger and disbelief at a proposal to raise the Santa Rosa City Schools superintendent’s salary by nearly 29%, after months of intense negotiations with the teachers union over teacher pay increases.
Superintendent Diann Kitamura, who led the district through the devastating 2017 wildfires and the aftermath, has been in her position for three years and has not received a pay raise since she started. The proposal calls for increasing her salary from $200,000 to $257,094.
The district also is proposing to increase the salaries of four other district administrators.
Critics say the proposed pay increases lower morale and expose issues of income inequality among staff members.
Kitamura’s salary is right at the state average for superintendents, but in an interview she said it’s lower than what superintendents make at districts of similar size and in areas with a similar cost of living. At Napa Valley, for example, the top administrator gets paid $265,000, while superintendents in San Rafael and Novato make $279,400 and $228,000, respectively, according to the Santa Rosa school district.
“You cannot compare a superintendent salary to the state average because each district is so different,” Kitamura said.
There’s currently no salary increase schedule for the superintendent position. “It’s not about me, it’s about making this right for the future of the district,” Kitamura said.
The district also is considering salary increases for four assistant superintendents: Stacy Spector, human resources; Steve Mizera, student and family services; Anna Guzman, teaching and learning; and Rick Edson, business services. They currently make $155,140 a year.
The district is proposing to bump Spector’s pay to $160,569, while Mizera and Guzman would earn $166,189 and $172,006, respectively. Edson, whose role would change to deputy superintendent, would get paid $189,000 annually under the proposal.
“This is an exponential pay raise for the top 1% of our organization,” Kristin Colgrove, office manager at Hidden Valley Elementary School, told the board at a Wednesday meeting.
During teacher pay negotiations, district officials initially offered a 1% pay increase. Months later, in March, they offered a 5.5% salary hike over two years, but the union had countered, asking for a 10% bump.
An agreement was reached at the end of March for a 3% raise to teacher salaries beginning in July, followed by a 4% hike the next year. The union members voted in favor of the contract, which the school board approved Wednesday.
“We had to organize and fight hard to get a raise, and as soon as we ink the deal they do this,” said Will Lyon, president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association.
Kitamura said the departure of an assistant superintendent last year left extra work that was absorbed by the remaining superintendents.
She said she works 12 to 14 hours a day and never turns off her phone on the weekend. There’s been major changes in the district that are time absorbing, like the transition from at-large board elections to district election.
And there were the October 2017 wildfires, which heavily affected students and staff members in the district and required extra responsibility, said Kitamura, who completed her doctoral degree in March after writing a dissertation on crisis leadership.