Laguna Beach USD Superintendent’s New Salary Tops $322,000, Staff Gets 4% Raise

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

By Breeana Greenberg, Special to the Independent

Laguna Beach Unified School District Supt. Jason Viloria will earn a $322,149 annual base salary under a four-year contract approved by the Board of Education on a 4-1 vote June 24.

Effective Thursday, Viloria out-earns his counterpart in Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Supt. Russell Lee-Sung, who earns $298,000, according to his employment agreement. Newport-Mesa Unified is made up of 32 schools with about 19,000 enrolled students while Laguna Beach Unified consists of just four schools with less than 2,700 enrolled students. 

Board member Dee Perry opposed Viloria’s amended contract.

Over the last year, Viloria and school board members faced consistent scrutiny by a group of parents upset over distancing learning, including a November 2020 decision to keep middle and high school students at home even as surrounding school districts welcomed students back to campuses. These secondary students weren’t able to return to classrooms until March, following the rollout of a color-coded system for managing COVID-19.

The Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association (LABUFA) and the District have also agreed upon a 4 percent salary increase for all certificated employees for the 2021-22 school year.

LABUFA and the district have a “me too” agreement, which means that all employees “regardless of the classification that you’re in, from the very top to the very bottom, so to speak,” will receive the negotiated four percent raise, said Sara Hopper, president of Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association. 

“We appreciate the collaborative relationship we have with our two bargaining units,” Assistant Supt. of Human Resources Mike Conlon said in a recent press release. “Our employees have led valiantly during the pandemic, and we are grateful for the opportunity to increase district-wide compensation after assessing our budget.”

“When we ask ourselves how we can provide the highest quality education and experience for our students, the answer is clear — by investing in our staff,” Viloria said in a recent press release. “We want to recruit and retain the highest-quality employees to serve our students and deeply appreciate our Board prioritizing this as an ongoing, multi-year strategic goal.”

Parent Colleen Connelly commented that she did not think a raise is fiscally responsible when the district is losing students. 

“Throughout this meeting tonight, we’ve heard how much [data] we don’t have at this point, which is totally understandable,” said Connelly. “We just came through a pandemic. So I think having this motion extending another year onto a contract, and no offense, I just think it’s just not fiscally responsible to base somebody’s place in this district to extend the contract when we don’t have the data that I would say would be needed.”

Board member Dee Perry agreed that more data was needed for her to vote to extend the superintendent’s contract. 

“I think the superintendent has done an amazing job of making our campuses safe, and I think our superintendent has a lot of potential, but I do think there’s room for improvement,” Perry said. She noted that she felt it is the superintendent’s job to create “a strong positive community attitude toward the school system.” 

“I don’t think we have a positive attitude toward the school system, with many people, now, with some, not with many. We’ve had a lot of wonderful families leave and I’ve just gotten several calls from other wonderful families that are leaving, and I’m very sad about that,” said Perry.

Perry voted against the contract amendment because she did not approve of the four-year extension of Viloria’s contract. 

Board President Carol Normandin commented that extending the contract by four years will allow for stability and retention. 

“I’m glad to have the consistency personally, and not have change over again,” Normandin said. “So I think that’s important because you can continue to improve, and build upon what you’re doing instead of someone coming in and bringing in all their new stuff of what they did at their district and dismantling everything else. I think we’re headed in a good direction and you know students are at the center of all of our decisions.”

“I have seen so much just in my less than eight months on this school board, of new programs and 

Board Clerk Kelly Osborne touted new initiatives and goals  underway in this district since she took office eight months ago.

“I think we need leadership that has some longevity to carry those out, and I’m in support of a four-year contract because it allows many of the things we’ve talked about today,” she said. “We want to see growth year over year, you know, we want to see that over multiple years. Especially in light of COVID I think we really need to have those years to be able to see results.”

According to a recent press release, Laguna Beach Unified School District employees can expect the raise to take effect July 1.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. What is the criteria for receiving raises and extensions for the LBUSD Superintendent?
    It is obviously NOT about:
    1. Keeping (4) small and shrinking schools OPEN to EDUCATE our children even though the VAST majority of larger school districts managed to do so with much less resources.
    2. Avoiding costly litigation where both the SUPERINTENDENT and LBUSD were reprimanded and put into Court record for “Abusing their discretion with NO statutory authority” at BOTH the Superior and Appellate Court Level concluding LBUSD and Superintendents losing case.
    3. Retaining Happy Parents and Students. LBUSD is loosing students in record numbers even though LBUSD has (4) of the most beautiful campuses imaginable and are at the top of the COUNTRY in teachers salaries and per capita spending on students. I wonder if LBUSD commitment to Equity and Critical Race Theory instead of “EDUCATION” and “CURRICULUM” has anything to do with the mass exodus from our schools. A recent $250,000 committed to these indoctrination and self-hating programs may have WOKE a number of parents up.
    4. Fiscal transparency? What has the escalation of LEGAL COST and SETTLEMENTS been during this Superintendents tenure and how many Non-disclosures have been entered into?
    5. The Superintendents WORK load? LBUSD with a shrinking student body of 2700 for (4) small schools has (3) Ass. SUPERINTENDENTS. We have $1,000,000 worth of Superintendents for a District that is basically the same size as “ONE” San Clemente High School.
    6. Transparency and Accountability. Happens primarily behind closed door sessions where accountability is farmed out by the Superintendent to “TEAMS and SITE-LEADERSHIP”. This is amazing because our School Board abdicated their elected duties to this Superintendent and refuse to reclaim the responsibilities that they were elected for. Therefore, this Superintendent can claim “ALL” the success for what has happened to the LBUSD over the last year+.

    All many of us are wondering is “WHAT has been successful under this Superintendents Leadership” to warrant an extension and raise?

  2. Please explain to me how a guy, who get’s at best, a C+ grade as supervisor, makes $325k per year in a small, self-funded school district with only four schools. Irvine Unified has 31,000 students, their Superintendent receives $335k per year. Newport-Mesa, $278k. Even Capistrano Unified, one of the largest districts in the country, lists their superintendent’s salary as $326k. I guess mediocrity is rewarded well here in Laguna.

  3. $ 325k for a district with four schools? Did they even do a comparison of other districts in CA?
    What are the salaries of other employees in the district?

    Is there something that I’m missing?

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