In a 3-2 vote last week, Mountain View Whisman School District trustees agreed to increase Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph's pay by 10 percent following his first year on the job. The increase raises the salary to the level advertised by the district last year when it was seeking a superintendent.
Board members Greg Coladonato and Steve Nelson cast the opposing votes.
The contract approved at the June 16 meeting sets Rudolph's annual salary at $220,000, up from $200,000 last year. The contract includes a provision for administrative coaching, paid for by the district, by the firm Peter Gorman Leadership Associates. Rudolph had not served as a superintendent before his hiring by the district, and board members agreed to foot a $57,000 bill for coaching services last year. The cost of coaching services for the coming year is also set at $57,000.
"I appreciate your continued faith in the direction of the district, and I am excited to continue moving forward," Rudolph told the board after the contract was approved.
Board president Ellen Wheeler said she believed that the 10 percent salary increase was a matter of fairness. She said that when the district advertised for a new superintendent in 2015 it listed the salary at $220,000, and that Rudolph had "generously" agreed to come to the district for less than that amount.
"Now that you've worked here for a year, it's only fair to bring you back up to that advertised level," she said.
Coladonato said he agreed with all the terms except the 10 percent raise. He said he had trouble giving the best-paid employee in the district a bigger raise than everyone else, and noted that the tentative agreement with the teachers' union calls for an 8 percent salary increase.
Coladonato argued that it's difficult to effectively rate Rudolph's performance after only one year on the job. The superintendent, he said, was able to pull together a strategic plan and keep the district afloat, but student performance and other measures still need to be addressed.
"Now that he has a strategic plan to execute on, next year we'll find out if he is doing a great job against those goals and maybe he'll deserve a good raise."
Nelson said he wanted the salary increase to match the 8 percent offer to teachers. He said he was also concerned about teacher survey results that he believes show "large teacher dissatisfaction" with the district office. Nelson conceded, however, that the problems were not caused by Rudolph, and that the long-term strategic plan hasn't been in place long enough to realistically expect a noticeable change in teachers' attitudes.
Despite his hesitance to support the big salary bump, Nelson said he supports the continued coaching allowed in the contract, saying it's worth the cost.
"I think it was an excellent idea," he said. "I think it was worth $57,000 last year, and it will be worth $57,000 in the future."
Payroll data compiled by the website Transparent California shows that Rudolph's salary remains lower than superintendent pay in neighboring districts. Data from 2013 and 2014 show that superintendents in the Los Altos School District, Sunnyvale School District, the San Mateo Union High School District and the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District made between $223,792 and $253,197 each year in base pay. The three-year contract for former Mountain View Whisman Superintendent Craig Goldman called for a salary of $224,951 in the 2015-16 school year.