Twin Rivers Unified superintendent gets 8 percent pay hike

Twin Rivers Unified School District Superintendent Steven Martinez speaks at a community meeting last year.
Twin Rivers Unified School District Superintendent Steven Martinez speaks at a community meeting last year. Sacramento Bee file

Twin Rivers Unified school board members unanimously approved a $20,000 pay raise for Superintendent Steven Martinez on Tuesday night.

The 28,000-student district in the north Sacramento area will pay Martinez $260,000 a year starting in July, an 8.3 percent hike that includes converting a $10,000 car allowance into pay.

His amended contract also increases a district-funded payment into a retirement account from $7,500 to $15,000 annually, with gradual increases up to $21,000 in 2017-18.

The four-year agreement extends the superintendent’s contract until 2019 – one additional year.

It marks the second time the school board has boosted the superintendent’s salary since he was hired in 2013 at $215,000. He received a $25,000 raise, or 11.6 percent, in 2014.

The latest salary increase came after the board conducted the superintendent’s annual review and found his overall performance had exceeded its expectations, said board President Rebecca Sandoval. She said Martinez has helped the district to put difficult issues behind it and to move forward.

Twin Rivers Unified formed in 2008 through a merger of three elementary districts – Rio Linda, Del Paso and North Sacramento – with the Grant high school district. More than 8 in 10 of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on low household income.

The district previously faced accusations of police department abuses and was the subject of a 2012 grand jury report that alleged administrative malfeasance.

Board members credit Martinez with building a strong administrative team, adding staff training, improving facilities, increasing community and student involvement and bringing a collaborative culture to the district.

“We believe that offering him an increase is really a strong investment in stability and progress,” said board member Linda Fowler, who said the new salary and benefits are comparable to what other area superintendents earn.

Fowler said the $20,000 salary increase is offset by an $833.33 monthly car allowance – about $10,000 a year – that has been eliminated and rolled into the superintendent’s salary. She said the allowance was added to his salary in an attempt to be more transparent.

“I think the public has a right to know exactly what any public employee is earning,” she said.

But pension critics have argued that converting administrative perks into salary results in pension increases at retirement. A state regulation in 2016 will no longer allow car allowances and other perks to count toward pensions if they are rolled into a salary, said Ricardo Duran, spokesman for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

School employees who already have administrative benefits rolled into their salaries, including Martinez, will be exempt from the new regulation, he said.

Call The Bee’s Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert.

2014-15 superintendent salaries in large Sacramento County K-12 districts

Sacramento City Unified (47,031 enrollment): José Banda, $290,000 salary, no district-paid health and welfare benefits. Business expenses reimbursed for out-of-county travel.

Elk Grove Unified (62,499): Christopher Hoffman, $270,000 plus health benefits, $800 a month for transportation and business expenses.

San Juan Unified (49,035): Kent Kern, $235,125 plus $14,100 longevity pay, $4,000 annuity, $12,000 for expenses and travel, and $18,872 in health and welfare benefits.

Folsom Cordova Unified (19,356): Deborah Bettencourt, $221,500 plus health benefits, $500 car allowance, submits other expenses.

Natomas Unified (13,164): Chris Evans, $213,210 plus medical benefits, $8,000 annuity, $500 per month car allowance, $3,600 for potential expenses.

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