In 2015, The San Diego Union Tribune commented on Dr. Justin Cunningham’s Superintendent’s salary, benefits and pension ($191,000 for overseeing a 2,300-student school district) in an article entitled “Some superintendent salaries rising to the extreme.” Here’s the snippet from the article:
Superintendent Justin Cunningham signed a 3 year contract in 2015 for approximately $170k plus benefits. In 2016, the Board approved raises for staff, increasing the Superintendent’s base pay to $178k. However TransparentCalifornia reveals Superintendent Cunningham was actually paid a shocking $281k in 2016, more than the Governor of California! It took SaveGirdValley.com six months and dozens of emails to BUSD to finally see the correct figures for 2016 posted to TransparentCalifornia. Cunningham retired in 2017, saying he had a bad knee. His pension will be based on this very high salary. Interestingly, pensions for County employees with 25 years on the job max out at 40.5% of their salaries (recently reduced from 57.5%) but the Village News reported Cunningham’s taxpayer-funded pension will be 80 to 85% of his salary.
So how did Dr. Cunningham manage to take $281k out of a financially struggling small school district in 2016, bumping up his pension in the process? How did this happen? That’s a good question.