Twin Rivers Unified Superintendent Steven Martinez has been busy building a high-powered executive team of top-notch education leaders.
He snagged former St. Helena Unified Superintendent Bill McGuire to be deputy superintendent; former Sacramento City Unified Interim Superintendent Sara Noguchi and former Chino Hills High School Principal Jacqueline Perez to be associate superintendents; and promoted Gina Lanphier to be assistant superintendent of human resources.
The credentials of his executive cabinet are impressive – as are their salaries.
Last month, trustees of the North Sacramento area district boosted the salary of McGuire by $16,000, bringing his annual pay to $239,000. His salary has increased by $24,000 since he started at Twin Rivers 18 months ago. McGuire oversees the district’s business office, as well as maintenance, transportation, nutrition and risk management.
Noguchi, hired in April to fill the newly created position of associate superintendent of innovation, research and design, has an salary of $202,690. Perez, the newly appointed associate superintendent of teaching and learning, is paid $202,690. Lanphier, the assistant superintendent of human resources, is paid $138,524.
A survey of the salaries of the region’s three largest school districts shows that Martinez’s three top cabinet members have the highest salaries in their job categories.
Since he took the helm of Twin Rivers Unified in the summer of 2013, he has hired 16 district-level administrators. Many filled spots vacated as former administrators parted ways with the district during tumultuous times.
“Within the first two months I was without a CBO (chief business officer), without an associate superintendent of human resources. It was definitely a place that was in crisis mode,” Martinez said.
Voters established Twin Rivers in 2007 by authorizing the merger of three elementary districts – Rio Linda, Del Paso and North Sacramento – and the Grant high school district. More than eight in 10 of its students qualify for free and reduced-priced meals based on low household income.
The district prior to Martinez’s arrival faced accusations of police department abuse, a scathing grand jury report that alleged administration malfeasance and chronically low graduation rates.
“The opportunity to help transform a school district you would classify as one of the most troubled to one of the most successful is a challenge that I think is doable,” McGuire said. “It’s an opportunity and you know you are doing the right thing for students.”
Perez traded her job as principal at a high-performing high school in Southern California for the top human resources job at Twin Rivers two years ago before being promoted to associate superintendent of teaching and learning. “My heart is in urban school districts working with urban youth,” she explained.
“People are starting to see some wins and they want to be part of that movement,” Martinez said.
He said achievements include adding visual and performing arts classes at all schools, hiring counselors, installing and repairing heating and air conditioning units and replacing the Grant Union High School pool. He said data show more district students are applying to four-year colleges.
“When I look for any individuals to become any part of the team at the district office, I’m looking for people with a strong commitment to kids and the belief that all kids can learn,” Martinez said. “I look for capacity and a willingness to learn.”
The superintendent’s larger cabinet consists of 14 members that includes the executive cabinet and executive directors, assistant superintendents, a director and one coordinator.
Despite the high-end hires, the total cost of cabinet-level administration has gone down since Martinez started at the district. In 2012-13 the district had 16 senior administrators at a cost of $2.1 million, according to district information. Last school year, the administration spent $1.9 million on the salaries of 14 top administrators.
There are a total of 67 people working in district-level management, according to McGuire. Their salaries total about $6.75 million.
Executive cabinet salaries
Twin Rivers Unified
- Deputy superintendent, $239,000
- 2 associate superintendents, $202,690
- 1 assistant superintendent, $138,524
Elk Grove Unified
- Associate superintendents, six paid from $167,451 to $190,738
San Juan Unified*
- Associate superintendent, $198,799
- chief financial officer, $187,546
- chief legal counsel, $164,848
- senior director of technology services, $157,908
- 4 assistant superintendents, each earning $156,634
Sacramento City Unified
- Deputy superintendent, $167,587
- Chief academic officer, $152,913
- chief business officer, $170,775
- chief human resources officer, $142,864
- chief communications officer, $144,777
- chief information officer, $152,913
Note: San Juan Unified has a cabinet, but no executive cabinet. These are the highest salaries in the district’s cabinet.
Source: District data