Laguna Beach USD Superintendent’s new salary exceeds $331,000

Supt. Jason Viloria opens a car door and guides an arriving student at Top of the World Elementary on Oct. 5, 2020. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

The top employee of the Laguna Beach Unified School District will see his annual salary increase to $331,813 starting Friday.

A 3% pay increase and other contract amendments for Supt. Jason Viloria were approved by the Board of Education on a 4-1 vote on June 23. Board member Dee Perry dissented. Viloria had pulled in a $322,149 base annual salary approved last June.

Laguna Beach teachers and classified staff were awarded a 6% raise on Thursday. For years, the school board has agreed to offer executives the same rate increase negotiated with the district’s labor unions.

School board members couldn’t meet before the June 23 meeting to evaluate Viloria’s performance because of schedule conflicts, Board president Carol Normandin said. That evaluation will be held in a closed session Wednesday.

“I feel like we’re not doing our job because we didn’t evaluate but I understand we’re locked in,” Perry said.

Normandin responded to Perry by pointing out all board members had access to the contracts before the June 23 meeting.

“Doing your job would have been reading those before this meeting and knowing what they are,” she said.

The biting exchange is a continuation of the icy climate on the board since February 2019 when Perry was passed over for the board president position. Perry went on to file an unsuccessful lawsuit against the district in California federal court, alleging she endured retaliation and discrimination from her colleagues.

In addition to his salary, retirement, and health benefits, Viloria will also receive a monthly $1,000 allowance for a cell phone, internet, and other expenses.

Normandin wasn’t available for comment Monday.

“It is the Board’s goal to provide stability and continuity in the operational and instructional programs of the District, and, consistent with such goal, the Board agrees that the Superintendent shall be compensated for his longevity with the District,” the related board resolution states.

As a comparison, Irvine Unified School District Supt. Terry Walker earns a $335,993 base salary under a three-year contract. He oversees a district with over 36,000 students enrolled in 43 schools.

Viloria isn’t the only senior manager at the district who will see a raise effective Friday.

Jeff Dixon, assistant superintendent of business services, will see his annual salary increase to $256,362. This will pencil out as a 14.7% raise.

As a comparison, Newport-Mesa Unified school board members recently approved a $251,219 base salary for Jeffery Trader, assistant superintendent and chief business official. Newport-Mesa includes 22 campuses with about 19,000 enrolled students.

Assistant Supt. of Human Resource Michael Conlon and Assistant Supt. of Instructional Services Chad Mabery will both see their annual salaries increase to $227,744. That’s a 7.7% raise for both.

Like all management employees, Mabery is eligible for a $7,173 in bonuses because he earned master’s and doctorate degrees.

Likewise, Newport-Mesa recently approved a $251,219 base salary for Socorro Shiels, assistant superintendent for student achievement and innovation.

The salary increases landed as many Laguna Beach community members left town ahead of the Fourth of July. Some parents have questioned the wisdom of the school district employing three assistant superintendents in a school district of four campuses.

Amy Kramer, a Laguna Beach parent and former school board candidate, said the Board of Education should reconsider the optics of hiking their top employee’s salary.

“Paying a superintendent over $331,000 for a four-school district with less than 3,000 students (and dropping) and three assistant superintendents seems exaggeratedly tone-deaf in this deteriorating economic climate. Not to mention the $1,000 monthly stipend which could easily cover a Cayenne payment and a cell phone bill,” Kramer wrote in an email.

A brief open session of the school board will convene at 1 p.m. on Wednesday before it heads into closed session.

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  1. Our indoctrinated School Board is under the impression that they are there to serve the Superintendent NOT the students, parents or Laguna Beach citizens that “ELECTED” them. They have become so out of touch and/or emboldened that they don’t even understand the “OPTICS” of approving salary increases without an evaluation “FIRST”.
    “EVERY” Board Member adopted the annual evaluation on September 9, 2021 (code 2140).
    Dee Perry “WOMAN OF THE YEAR” was the only Board member to question the reasoning of approving salary increases prior to the Board conducting their annual evaluation which they “ALL” had adopted only 9 months prior.
    President Carol Normandin was flustered by Dee Perry trying to do the job she was “ELECTED” to do claimed that Dee was in Breach of Contract for suggesting that an evaluation of the Superintendents performance should occur “PRIOR” to voting on a salary increase. You can’t make this stuff up!!!!
    The Board voted 4-1.

    This is why Dee Perry was voted “WOMAN OF THE YEAR”. The other 4 should take notice.

    The School Board and Superintendent do NOT want to have an open discussion about the LBUSD’s performance:

    1. 500 fewer students
    2. One of the last schools in California to get back to in class learning
    3. Adding a 3rd Ass. Superintendent to a shrinking 4 school district of 2700 students
    4. Adding a $6 figure PR person to project their virtue.
    5. Instituting outside programs that have nothing to do with Academics or Curriculum
    6. Legal expenditures that are out of control.
    Why would the School Board ever think they need to have an open discussion about performance when things are working so well?
    $72 million of our Laguna Beach tax dollars are going to our under performing schools.
    Change is needed.

  2. Omg look at this. Only 3000 students and over $1m in exec compensation for the top 4 people. And everyone is ok with it except for 1 board member. Dee Perry is my new hero, really.


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