ICOE board stalls in su­per­in­ten­dent’s salary dis­cus­sion

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY ED­WIN DEL­GADO Staff Writer

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.

Ad­di­tional business

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

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