San Mateo County Community College District administrators received a pay raise from the school board in a decision pushing the top official’s baseline compensation to more than $420,000 annually.
The district Board of Trustees during a meeting Wednesday, July 26, unanimously agreed a recommended salary increase for all executives next year.
Under the new contract, Chancellor Ron Galatolo stands to receive $421,464 in salary per year, amounting to an annual base salary raise worth nearly $15,000 from the previous year, according to online state salary index Transparent California.
No trustees from the district comprised of three comprehensive schools could be reached for comment on the deal making Galatolo the highest paid education administrator in San Mateo County.
Trustee Maurice Goodman was absent from the meeting and did not cast a vote, so the contract was approved 4-0 with board President Tom Mohr, and trustees Karen Schwarz, Richard Holober and Dave Mandelkern consenting.
Alongside Galatolo were 40 other executives who earned raises, including a cabinet of three other vice chancellors who are set to make in the neighborhood of $220,000 in annual base pay.
District critic Maxine Terner shared her dissatisfaction with the board’s decision to offer such handsome compensation packages.
“It is unfathomable why the board would raise Chancellor Galatolo’s already high salary after a year of failures in which he lost the garden lawsuit at the Supreme Court and lost the sale of KCSM which cost the district millions of dollars,” she said in an email, referring to a series of district missteps over the past year — most notably the botched sale of the College of San Mateo’s television station.
Dueling lawsuits were filed earlier this year by school officials and LocusPoint Networks over which side was responsible for muffing a bid and excluding the district from a deal worth an expected $114 million.
Representatives from the firm hired to facilitate the sale claim school officials dropped the ball on their most basic duty to culminate the deal by entering the auction for a final time, while district employees believe the responsibility fell to the contractor.
In its lawsuit, LocusPoint Networks is seeking an undetermined amount, but wants value commiserate to the money it would have received had the purchase gone through, plus the more than $3 million paid in operating expenses and interest. The legal fight was discussed in closed session during the meeting, prior to the contract approval.
Other legal battles continue to plague the district as well, as last week the state Supreme Court denied officials’ request for review of a ruling earlier this year precluding the paving of gardens on the College of San Mateo campus.
The decision holds up a requirement that the district conduct full environmental review of the project’s potential impacts, rather than agreeing with officials who considered it an amendment to a larger campus redesign approved years ago.
Though Galatolo has said trustees will continue considering whether to further pursue the court case, garden defenders claim the most recent decision should close the book on the legal process which started five years ago.
Despite the various legal hurdles, the district has maintained a reputation for offering students a quality education while also launching innovative programs such as the ability for students to earn four-year degrees.
Officials gave great care recently to offer programs promoting cultural diversity among students as well, highlighted in part by landing a curriculum partnership with Apple which they hope will increase tech education among currently underrepresented groups.
The past year has also featured a county civil grand jury calling for improved campus safety policies and, in a separate decision, officials to examine free speech regulations in the wake of student protests.
The board last March also elected to clarify executive spending rules, after a television news station broke a story finding Galatolo had paid for alcohol and expensive meals on a district account.
The new salary contract was negotiated privately, but approved in public session.
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