- 1 of 2
But allowances removed from contract
AFTER deliberating the details of the proposed contract for new Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez, the Guam Education Board in a special meeting yesterday approved to increase his annual salary from $125,000 to $150,000, but without the additional allowances proposed in an earlier draft of the contract.
Before GEB unanimously agreed on the amount, several board members made it clear they are against providing additional perks to Fernandez, emphasizing GDOE cannot pay for these proposed allowances.
During the contract deliberations, GEB member Rosie Tainatongo expressed her concern about the financial capacity of GDOE to provide the additional allowances for Fernandez.
Tainatongo said she has thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the contract and with all of the allowances and benefits plugged in, Fernandez will be receiving a total of $370,236 during his first year as superintendent.
At the end of Fernandez’s four-year contract, she added, GDOE would end up paying him $1,849,892.
“We don’t have the money. We have the budget of $125,000 for the superintendent. But there are a lot of things that we lack. We don’t have supplies for kids out in the schools,” Tainatongo emphasized.
“I’m sorry but, [are] we saying there is no money for the department but we are willing to go ahead and pay this out?” Tainatongo asked the board.
Another board member, Joe San Agustin, also firmly opposed the additional allowances for the superintendent, stating, “If the board had announced earlier that the minimum is $125,000 and we could negotiate higher, I wouldn’t have any problems with that.”
“Why don’t we give him a set salary and let him pay for what he needs to pay for,” San Agustin said.
San Agustin also put forward the motion to approve an annual salary of $150,000 for the superintendent but without the allowances earlier proposed by the board. The board members unanimously approved the motion.
During the GEB special meeting, the board also allowed the new superintendent to request GDOE to reimburse reasonable expenses incurred for shipping his personal effects to Guam, as long as the amount does not exceed $15,000.
The items that were removed from the contract include the housing allowance of $2,000 per month, working facilities and technology allowance of $300 per month, and automobile allowance of $650 per month. Also scrapped was the section on establishing a supplemental retirement plan for the superintendent.
A section entitling the superintendent to receive one year salary, allowance, and compensation upon termination was also scrapped from the contract. In addition, the board decided that the superintendent may receive a 2 percent salary increase per year, based on satisfactory performance.
Also scrapped from the contract was the section on “entertainment allowance,” which states the “board will provide for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of the superintendent’s official duties.”
After the meeting, Tainatongo said she is satisfied after the board decided to cut off some of the expenses.
“I am happy we have deleted a lot of those things because I wouldn’t have supported a $300,000 contract for the superintendent,” Tainatongo said.
In terms of prioritizing resources, she said GDOE should put kids first before anything else.
Tainatongo stated: “I believe the department exists to provide resources that the kids need. We have to educate them and prepare them for the future. And of course, we should have a superintendent to direct all of this and to be on track and to make sure that we provide all of the necessary services for the kids.”
Meanwhile, San Agustin clarified that he is not questioning Fernandez’s credentials or capacity to lead the department. According to San Agustin, he is just making sure there is transparency in the negotiation and hiring process for the new superintendent.
GEB is hoping to have Fernandez on board by June 1 this year.