Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson's pay perks to end

The Fresno BeeJune 18, 2013 

A year and a half after lawmakers made sweeping changes to the way government executives are compensated, Fresno Unified School District's superintendent will likely see a cut to his contractual perks, including yearly salary increases.

Superintendent Michael Hanson will no longer be eligible for a $30,000 annual retention bonus and his yearly automatic pay raise will drop from 3.5% to about 2%, leveling it to the state's consumer price index for urban wage earners. The school board is set to take up the changes at its meeting today.

Hanson has deferred his extra $30,000 in compensation since 2008, a move he says he made in response to economic hard times. He's also deferred his 3.5% annual wage increase.

The school board today will take up a 2%, or $7,500, salary increase, marking the first time Hanson's annual pay has grown since the economy slid into recession.

That would bring his total earnings -- including insurance and retirement funds -- to $378,500 next year.

"We were cutting our budgets and so I didn't take any of that contractually owed to me because I didn't feel right about it at the time," Hanson said. "We're dealing with it now because we're now completely back on financial footing as a district."

The adjustments to Hanson's contract puts it in line with a government clean-up law that went into effect in January 2012.

In 2011, lawmakers signed off on legislation that aims to build more transparency and accountability into high-level government employee contracts. The law came as a response to the 2010 scandal in the Southern California city of Bell, where several city council members were accused and later found guilty of misusing city funds to boost their salaries.

Among its provisions, government agency executives can no longer get pay boosts above California's consumer price index, which measures inflation. The law also requires those employees to reimburse the state if convicted of abusing his or her office for power.

The law also extends to department heads, but likely won't have a major impact on any additional Fresno Unified employees, Hanson said.

"Nobody else has automatic raises in their contracts," he said.

If you go

What: Fresno Unified school board meeting (last of the school year)

When: Open meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

Where: District office, 2309 Tulare Street in downtown Fresno

Details: School board's webpage

The reporter can be reached at 559-441-6412, hfurfaro@fresnobee.com or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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