Despite economic woes, Paso Robles bumps superintendent’s pay

January 23, 2013
Kathleen McNamara

Kathleen McNamara

Even though the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District is one of the most financially distressed districts in California, the superintendent’s salary has been increasing.

Superintendent Kathleen McNamara has received several raises in base salary since 2009, taking it from $161,813 to $182,500 in 2012. Factoring in the district’s 12 furlough days this school year reduces her salary to $172,767. [CaliforniaWatch]

During the last fiscal year, the district was near insolvency and faced being taken over by the state unless it took “corrective action,” a San Luis Obispo County grand jury warned in a report last year.

The district is struggling with a massive bond debt repayment of more than $30 million because of two capital appreciation bonds it turned to as a way to raise money during the economic downturn.

In March, the district and the teachers union agreed that teachers would absorb a big paycheck hit to help balance the district’s stressed budget. In the agreement, teachers agreed to a pay cut of 9.72 percent over two years to help keep schools operating through 2014. Individual teachers gave up several thousand dollars from their last three paychecks of the 2011/2012 school year.

As to whether her salary is fair, McNamara told California Watch only others can make that determination.

“However,” she added, “I do feel taking the eight furlough days for the past four years and 12 furlough days this year as part of my commitment to assist in balancing the district budget was very appropriate and the right thing to do.”


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It’s easy to tell when negotiations with the unions are beginning. Union propaganda, presented as facts, always finds it way onto these pages.

First of all, Cal Coast, check your facts. The entire school district; teachers, managers, superintendent, custodians, secretaries, bus drivers, ALL took the same cut. Not just the teachers. And it wasn’t 9.72%. It was about 6%. And it wasn’t a “pay cut”. It was a furlough. The distinction is important, With a “pay cut”, salaries are reduced but everyone continues to work the same number of days they worked before the cut. With a furlough, pay is reduced, but so are the number of work days. Yes, you get less pay, but you don’t have to work on the days that you’re not getting paid. The district employees didn’t have to work for the twelve days they weren’t getting paid for. Not a great solution, but how many of us in regular business would prefer furloughs over a straight pay cut? At least we’d get some extra time off.

And here’s another point that you haven’t represented accurately. The Superintendent’s pay is based on a step scale, just like teachers. In other words, there’s a built in annual raise for the Superintendent, just like the teachers. This is common practice in all districts, not just Paso. And Dr. McNamara has been voluntarily taking 8 furlough days each year when the teachers and other staff were not.

Additionally, her salary is about in the middle of the scale for superintendents. Whether you think the salary is too high or not, it’s the going rate for Superintendents. And if you think it’s such a great job, go out and get your doctorate, spend time in the trenches, and get hired as a superintendent. Then you too can enjoy the 14 hour work days, nasty back-stabbing tactics of the unions, the yellow journalism of gossip rags, and vindictive cowards behind anonymous keyboards. You’ll earn every penny of that salary. Go for it.

People like to bring up the $1.5 million ‘error’ that caused a major problem for Paso schools. But the truth is that the ‘error’ was done before this superintendent was hired. This ‘error’ was discovered by the financial manager this Superintendent hired to clean up the district’s financial problems. Why aren’t you giving Dr. McNamara credit for having the foresight to bring in a top-notch financial person to find and solve problems?

She was a home ec major and is not a financial genius. Remember that $1.5 MILLION dollar accounting error? Why was she never held accountable for that?

She’s not a “people person” around staff, parents or students. She vowed to visit every classroom so she could “get to know” students and staff. LOL! The only time she set foot on my kids’ school was for a one hour awards assembly about 3 years ago.

Another commenter called her a bully; I fully agree. And the newly-elected Paso school board members need to WAKE UP and stop being “yes men” (and women) to this incompetent and arrogant superintendent. She had minimal support in her previous school district (Google it) and she has even less support in Paso.

You see, had the district required two parental signatures, I would have made sure my daughter was in some sort of formal education, instead of sitting at home for a month due to a lazy father. I suggested that the policy be changed to require two signatures to dis-enroll or enroll a student, especially if there is a court order giving parents joint legal custody. That way, there are protections in place to ensure the student is being educated and one parents parental rights aren’t being denied by the district. When I spoke to the School Boards attorney, he told me that it was a family law matter. Really? I beg to differ.

Kathy, in my opinion, can care less about parents, their rights or the rights of children to be educated. Had it been a concern for her, she would have brought charges towards a parent for not enrolling a child in school instead of threatening to file a police report on me for advocating for my child to be in school., change policy requiring two signatures (if joint legal custody is recognized) so as not to deny a parent their right to participate in the educational decision of their very own child.

You mean, “couldn’t care less.” The expression is supposed to be in the negative form.

Sorry for that The Gimlet Eye. I’ll do better next time.

People generally receive raises for doing their job well. In academic circles, doing your job well is 100% dependent upon pleasing the people above you rather than supporting the people at your level or below you (not to mention supporting students). Raises such as this one send out the message that supporting your superiors brings you success. As you probably know, there are plenty of ethically challenged people in academia who understand and are willing to act on this warped definition of success.