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The San Diego Unified School Board unanimously approved a four-year contract with a $375,000 annual salary for its new superintendent on Tuesday.

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

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 annual salary, Jackson will also get a $15,000 annual car allowance.

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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 Jackson to be paid up to $187,500, or six months’ salary.

His contract will expire on March 6, 2026.

Superintendent pay is typically based on several factors, such as longevity — the more years a superintendent serves, the more money they make in a job where turnover often happens in five years or fewer. School districts often compare how much superintendents in nearby districts make.

Geography also matters — superintendents in larger states like California and Texas tend to get paid more, education leaders have said.

School districts may feel pressure to offer higher pay nowadays because competition for superintendents is high, as the stresses of the 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 school 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 at all but one of the nation’s five largest districts, including New York City, Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Clark County. Each of those districts enroll more than 300,000 students, compared to San Diego Unified’s approximately 95,000 district, non-charter students.

Los Angeles Unified is the nation’s second-largest district, with about 575,000 district and charter school students, and 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.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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