Ontario-Montclair Superintendent Lost $100,000 From a Single Sentence Change in His Contract

James Hammond still made $646,744 last year, partly due to pay raises totaling more than 15%

Ontario-Montclair School District’s superintendent made roughly $100,000 less in 2022 after the school board removed a single sentence from his contract, according to a review of district records.

The amendment eliminated a longstanding provision that allowed Superintendent James Hammond to accrue and then immediately cash out up to 85 sick days annually. In 2021, Hammond was the highest paid superintendent in the state, with a total compensation package, including pay and benefits, just below $750,000.

Of that total, $129,506 came solely from trading in that year’s accrual of sick leave.

Newly obtained records show Hammond’s compensation dropped to $646,744 last year as a result of the amendment unanimously approved by the school board in June. The revision not only removed a sentence allowing him to cash-out sick time, but also capped Hammond’s accrual of sick time at 85 days per year. His contract originally gave him 30 days of sick leave, plus five days for each year of service since his hiring in 2010.

He is still permitted to trade in up to 25 days of vacation, according to his contract.

The district is required to pay Hammond for 444 days of banked sick leave and any amount of unused vacation days upon his exit from the district. He had 556 days of sick time and six vacation days banked as of October 2022. The California State Teachers Retirement System also converts any remaining unused sick leave above 12 days per year into additional service credits upon retirement.

Even with the reduction, Hammond would have still been the highest paid K-12 administrator in California compared to his peers from 2021, according to data compiled by Transparent California.

Compensation breakdown

Hammond’s annual compensation in 2022 included:

  • $447,641 in direct pay, including $39,903 from cashing out his entire vacation accrual for the year.
  • $62,202 in contributions to the California State Teachers Retirement System.
  • $75,150 in deferred compensation.
  • $27,500 for a whole-life insurance policy.
  • $34,251 toward health and wellness.

A Southern California News Group investigation in 2021 first detailed how Hammond used his carefully crafted contract and ever increasing amount of leave to raise his compensation to the top of the charts.

Records show the reduction in the superintendent’s pay last year is almost entirely attributable to the elimination of his sick leave cash-outs. Two salary increases allowed him to offset some of the loss, however.

Hammond’s contract lets him waive an annual cost-of-living increase to instead take any raise provided to the district’s bargaining units. He accepted a 4.76% raise given to California School Employees Association members in April, and then in October received an additional 10.25% raise as a result of the newly approved contracts with CSEA and the Ontario-Montclair Teachers Association, records showed.

15.5% raise in 2022

His salary jumped nearly 15.5% total in the calendar year, going from $26,591 per month in January 2022 to $30,712 a month in October.

The two unions have been generally supportive of the superintendent and endorsed his supporters on the board in the last election. Emails obtained in a public records request indicated the leaders of CSEA and OMTA warned Hammond that a reporter had contacted them to ask about his high pay in 2021.

Hammond is seemingly well-liked in Ontario-Montclair, and the school board has credited him with many of the district’s successes over the past decade, including the passage of a facilities bond in 2016 and reductions in suspensions and expulsions. The district’s academic performance is consistent with state averages in most cases, according to GreatSchools, a nonprofit that rates schools and districts to assist parents. Though OMSD is expected to have a deficit this school year, it has ended the past two years with surpluses, according to a recent annual audit report.

The district, like others in the state, is suffering from declining enrollment. It has lost 1,596 students since 2019, the audit found.

Voters reelected board members

Though some parents criticized Hammond’s high pay at board meetings in response to the Southern California News Group’s investigation, voters were less concerned and overwhelmingly supported all three incumbents in the 2022 election.

Board member Elvia Rivas, while serving as president in 2021, previously defended Hammond’s generous compensation and the sick-leave cash-outs specifically. She explained in an email at the time that Hammond’s pay was structured to provide “financial incentives for him to stay in OMSD and prevent the frequent turnover in the superintendent’s position that occurs in many urban school districts.”

“Dr. Hammond’s continuity of effective leadership has made a huge positive difference in the lives of students and the families we serve,” Rivas wrote.

Minutes of the June 16 meeting, when the board revoked the sick leave cash-outs, did not indicate any discussion by the board. The minutes show Hammond verbally outlined the changes, as required by law, and stated it would decrease the district’s fiscal obligations.

Rivas has not responded to past requests to explain the reasoning for the change. Neither Hammond, nor new board President Sonia Alvarado, a real estate agent who once helped Hammond sell a home the district bought for him, responded to requests for comment.

Click here to read the full article in the SB Sun

S.F.’s Highest-Paid Employee Makes $600K. Here’s What Every City Worker Gets Paid

The government of San Francisco employs tens of thousands of workers across its 50 city and county departments. Last year, full-time S.F. government employees made anywhere between $36,000 and $601,000, with the average at around $127,000, which includes overtime.

That’s according to data provided by the S.F. Controller’s Office on the amount paid to public employees each year. Using this data, The Chronicle analyzed the earnings of those who worked at least 2,080 hours during the 2020-2021 fiscal year — equivalent to a position working 40 hours or more per week between July 2020 and June 2021. This comes out to about 21,000 employees. Because we filtered on actual hours worked, our data does not include full-time workers who, for instance, were out on unpaid leave or started midway through the fiscal year.

The data includes the pay of top officials, like Mayor London Breed ($351,000), Police Chief Bill Scott ($344,000) and former District Attorney Chesa Boudin ($308,000). But it also has information on other public employees. Among them are office clerks, police officers, firefighters, nurses in the public health department and transit operators at the Municipal Transportation Agency. Job titles used in this article are those provided by the Controller’s Office.

The total pay number is made up of three types of earnings — regular or base pay; overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week; and “other” pay which covers irregular payments such as leave pay, premium pay and payouts. It does not include the value of health insurance or retirement benefits, which can be generous in the public sector.

For most employees, the bulk of their pay comes from regular pay. But within the understaffed fire, police and sheriff departments, some employees racked up eye-popping amounts of overtime pay, which at times exceeded their regular wages. Across the three departments, the average person made $27,000 in overtime, and 153 employees collected over $100,000.

In an effort to boost staffing levels and reduce overtime spending in each of the three departments, the budget for the current fiscal year includes increased funding for hiring and retention. The police budget, for instance, went up by $50 million from the previous year, with most of the additional spending for backfilling 220 officer vacancies.

Across the 34 departments with at least 50 employees who worked 2,080 hours last year, the fire department had the highest average pay at $185,000, while the Recreation & Park Department had the lowest average at $96,000.

The Retirement Services and Administrative Services departments have the largest pay differences among its employees. The top earner in each department — Chief Investment Officer in Retirement Services and a medical examiner in Administrative Services — made about $600,000, which is $500,000 more than how much its least-paid employees earned.

The top earner in each department is typically the department head or person leading the office. For example, among the 109 full-time employees in the Mayor’s Office, Breed made the most at $351,000, which is $127,000 more than the next highest-paid staff member.

But in departments with significant overtime, the top earner is often a manager-level employee with unusually large overtime payments. The highest-paid person in the fire department, for instance, is a lieutenant with $154,000 in regular pay and $244,000 in overtime pay for a total of $421,000 — about $43,000 more than Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson’s total ($378,000). In the sheriff’s department, a deputy sheriff’s pay totaled $409,000, about two-thirds of which was overtime pay. That’s $131,000 more than what Sheriff Paul Miyamoto made last year ($278,000).

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle