Superintendent, administrators get longer contracts, pay hike

At their Thursday, September 4 gathering, members of the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education voted to approve an addendum to the contracts of Superintendent Jim Elsasser and four key district staffers.
Mr. Elsasser was first hired a little more than two years ago, with his contract extending from June 1, 2012 to June 30, 2016. Thanks to a unanimous vote by the board, the superintendent’s contract has been extended for an additional year, with his tenure as head of the district going through June 30, 2017.
Other administrators also approved to continue their jobs through the summer of 2017 include Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Lisa Shoemaker, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Bonnie Bell, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Kevin Ward and Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Mike Bateman.
At their June 5 gathering, the board ratified a 4 percent across-the-board salary increase for all district employees. The addendum notes that the 4 percent hike also extends to the superintendent’s cabinet.
With their decision to lenghten the administrators’ contracts, the board cast a vote for stability, particularly when it comes to the man at the helm of CUSD.
The district is just beginning to catch its stride after several years marked by remarkable turnover. From 2006 to 2012, CUSD saw three superintendents plus one interim superintendent come and go. Steven Llanusa, who is now in his ninth year representing Claremont schools, was on the board throughout that tumultuous period.
“There are many advantages to having a long-term superintendent who meshes well with the community, the employees and the school board members,” Mr. Llanusa said. “The employees don’t have to worry about priorities shifting each time there is a new person in charge. The school board doesn’t have to constantly adjust to a different personality. And the community knows what to expect from a longstanding superintendent versus a new superintendent.”
In his time at CUSD, Mr. Elsasser has proved to be popular with all manner of CUSD stakeholders, Mr. Llanusa among them.
“Dr. Elsasser cares first and foremost about the students, which I think is a crucial characteristic of any successful superintendent,” he explained. “He has talents in other areas—communication, financial matters, goal-setting—but he always uses those talents to make sure we are serving our students.”  
If Mr. Elsasser continues to perform well, it is likely the school board will extend the superintendent’s contract at the end of each successful school year rather than negotiate for a new contract when things get down to the wire.
“By extending his contract, it gives the district stability and the superintendent predictability,” Mr. Llanusa said.
Mr. Elsasser was first hired at $218,000 per year. After the 2012-2013 school year, Mr. Elsasser—having passed his mid-year and end-of-year evaluations with flying colors—was given a 3.5 percent salary increase as stipulated by his contract.
With another successful review under his belt, Mr. Elsasser’s paycheck has grown by 3.5 percent and the administrative revolving door has stopped spinning, at least for now.
—Sarah Torrbio


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