ICOE board stalls in superintendent’s salary discussion
EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Office of Education board of trustees was not able to reach a consensus regarding the future of the salary of the superintendent after engaging in a 45-minute conversation and multiple motions presented during Monday’s regular monthly meeting.
Despite gaining the praise from the four trustees present at the meeting, not all of them were on the same page as to the type of raise they wanted to vote on for ICOE Superintendent Todd Finnell.
Associate Superintendent of Operations Alex Wells presented the board with two salary increase options. One of them was a 16 percent raise, which translates to a $30,000 increase. The second option was a 10 percent increase, which equates to nearly $19,000.
The two salary proposals also included a doctoral stipend and service club stipend totaling $5,600.
Wells said the last time ICOE adjusted the superintendent’s salary was back in 2007, when it was raised to the current base salary of $189,717. He noted most of the superintendents for the local school districts have gotten wage increases between $30,000 and $40,000 since then, while the compensation for the top ICOE position has remained the same.
Currently, the ICOE superintendent receives the third highest educational salary paid locally, behind only the president of Imperial Valley College and superintendent of the El Centro Elementary School District received.
Wells said board policy recognizes the superintendent’s salary should be competitive, and he told the board that it no longer is.
Although the board members praised the work Finnell has done for ICOE they were reluctant to vote in favor of either of the two salary proposals. Three of the board members expressed willingness to support a raise, but they had different percentages in mind.
Trustee Alicia Armenta said she believed Finnell deserved a raise but was concerned with how much it would cost the district. She proposed an 8.5 percent increase, in addition to the stipends. She also wanted the superintendent to commit to getting teachers and staff to the same top-tier salary range in their respective positions; however, her motion didn’t get a second and failed.
Trustee Sharon Anderholt said she initially supported a 7.5 percent raise, but after looking at the cost of the stipends, she changed her mind. On Monday, she proposed a 4 percent increase, in addition to the stipends.
“Dr. Finnell has done a good job, but that’s what we expected of him when we elected him,” Anderholt said.
Armenta seconded the motion to open the discussion, but she said she felt the 4 percent raise was a “slap in the face” and ultimately rescinded her motion.
Armentera then submitted a motion to bring the item back to the board at the next meeting but the motion failed once again. Failing to reach a consensus, the board moved forward without taking further action.
Also during Monday’s meeting, the board received an update regarding the appeal submitted by Imagine School following the denial of its charter renewal by the El Centro Elementary School District back in January.
Staff told the board they had received a binder with all the information and documents submitted by the charter school, which the ICOE will now have to review.
Finnell said the ICOE board will have a special hearing on March 28 in which both Imagine School and ECESD will have 30-minute presentations. No action will be taken at the special meeting.
ICOE will have 60 days following the hearing to render a decision. Due to a large amount of documents staff will have to review, Deputy Superintendent Amanda Brooke said ICOE’s staff will not have enough time to fully review all the documents prior to the hearing.
March 9 was the deadline for candidates to file to run during the 2018 elections. Prior to the deadline, Finnell’s bid for a second term at the helm of ICOE was to be challenged by Salvador Cuevas, of Calexico.
However, on Monday evening, the Imperial County Registrar of Voters confirmed Cuevas doesn’t have the proper credentials required to run for the position, meaning Finnell will serve a second term as he will not have any challengers in the upcoming election.
Candidates running for any County Office of Education must have an administrative credential to be eligible to run.
Imperial County Office of Education Superintendent Todd Finnell gives the board of trustees background regarding the proposal to increase the compensation for his position during Monday’s meeting. EDWIN DELGADO PHOTO