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San Diego Unified School District’s new superintendent will make $375,000 a year

San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Lamont Jackson records a video message March 10.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Lamont Jackson gets a 29 percent increase from the salary of the previous superintendent, Cindy Marten.

Lamont Jackson, the San Diego Unified School District’s new superintendent, will get a four-year contract with a $375,000 annual salary, the school board decided unanimously March 22.

The board announced earlier this month that it had hired Jackson, who has worked for the district for about 34 years and previously was an area superintendent, as the district’s permanent leader. Jackson was already serving as interim superintendent for almost a year, making $280,800 annually.

Jackson’s new salary is 29 percent more than what his predecessor, Cindy Marten, was making. Marten, who led the district for eight years, was collecting a $290,907 annual salary, according to the district.

In addition to his salary, Jackson will get a $15,000 annual car allowance.

The school board will evaluate Jackson’s performance in January and July of each year, according to his contract. If the board decides to fire Jackson without giving a reason, the contract allows him to be paid up to $187,500, or six months’ salary.

His contract will expire March 6, 2026.

Pay for superintendents — a job in which turnover often happens in five years or less — is typically based on several factors, including longevity; the more years served, the more money one makes. School districts often compare how much superintendents in nearby districts make.

Geography also matters — superintendents in larger states such as California and Texas tend to be paid more, education leaders say.

Districts may feel pressure to offer higher pay nowadays because competition for superintendents is high as the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and politics are causing superintendents to leave their jobs or consider leaving.

San Diego Unified officials said they also considered inflation — prices in the San Diego area are up 8 percent from a year ago, according to the Consumer Price Index.

School boards typically consider the size of a district’s enrollment when setting pay, but in many cases, superintendents of smaller districts make more than leaders of larger districts.

Jackson’s salary exceeds those of superintendents in all but one of the nation’s five largest districts, including New York City, Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Clark County, Nev. Each of those districts enrolls more than 300,000 students, compared with San Diego Unified’s approximately 95,000 non-charter students.

Los Angeles Unified is the nation’s second-largest district, with about 575,000 district and charter school students. Its recently hired superintendent is making $440,000 a year.

According to Transparent California, the three San Diego-area school districts with the highest superintendent pay in 2020 were Cajon Valley Union, which had about 15,800 students and a superintendent salary of $335,000; Fallbrook Union Elementary, which had about 4,800 students and a $339,000 salary; and the San Diego County Office of Education, which provides support to all schools in the county and had a $344,000 salary.


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