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Santa Monica Schools Superintendent Gets New Contract

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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

July 17, 2015 -- Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra L. Lyon was granted a new three-year contract Wednesday, raising her salary to $239,200 annually, among the highest in California.

The contract was approved unanimously by the Board of Education, said Gail Pinsker, the District’s spokesperson.

School Board member Oscar de la Torre, a community activist known for his sometimes harsh assessments of some City officials, had only praise for Lyon. She is worth every penny, he said.

“I think the superintendent of our schools has the hardest upper-management job in the City of Santa Monica,” de la Torre said. “Our superintendent is going to take us from good to great.”

Perks include a $900-a-month stipend for “maintaining an automobile and cell phone” for district business. The contract also provides stipends for longevity and graduate degrees, although it does not specify the amounts covered.

As with other district employees, Lyon’s new contract offers full health and dental coverage, retirement, disability insurance, 13 sick days, five days of bereavement leave and 24 days of vacation a year. Any unused vacation days can be added onto Lyon’s daily rate of pay, a common feature with public school contracts.

Her salary can be revisited annually, according to the contract.

Lyons was hired in 2011 at a base pay of $230,000, although at that time she also received a $12,000 moving allowance.

Lyon’s total compensation including fringe benefits is hard to determine, although it was put at $282,030 in 2013, according to Transparent California, a website that tracks salary and other compensation for public employees throughout the state.

But even at her base pay, as of 2013, Lyon earned more than the heads of hundreds of public school districts in California, and put her just shy of the $231,000 earned annually by the head of schools for wealthy Laguna Beach.

The district, which has an estimated 11,173 students, recently adopted a budget of $102.6 million in general fund revenues.


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