Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Top Newport-Mesa officials get raises

Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees have approved a 6% salary increase for the superintendent and five executive cabinet members.

The board voted 6 to 0 on Tuesday night to approve pay increases for Supt. Fred Navarro; Paul Reed, the deputy superintendent and chief business official; John Caldecott, executive director of human resources; Charles Hinman, assistant superintendent of secondary education; Ann Huntington, assistant superintendent of student support services; and Susan Astarita, assistant superintendent of elementary education. Trustee Katrina Foley was absent.

The increase brings Navarro’s base salary to $269,214, Reed’s salary to $252,823, Caldecott’s salary to $207,945, Hinman’s salary to $215,352, Huntington’s salary to $215,372 and Astarita’s salary to $215,372.

In June, the board granted a 6% cost-of-living increase to all classified, supervisory, confidential and management employees, according to board documents.


Navarro and the executive cabinet have individual contracts with the district that guarantee them an equivalent cost-of-living adjustment when other employee groups receive raises, Reed said.

Trustees participated in no public discussion before voting.

“There wasn’t discussion because they’re the same salary increases we’re giving to all the groups,” said board President Karen Yelsey. “They weren’t being evaluated or given raises based on merit.”

Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers is the only union that has not yet settled next year’s contract with the district.


The district offered the teacher’s union a 6% pay raise, but the two sides have not yet settled on exact terms, said Nicholas Dix, the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teacher’s executive director, who also serves as the union’s chief negotiator.

In addition to their salaries, Navarro and members of the executive cabinet receive a $7,800 transportation allowance and $1,200 for communications annually.

The raise is the first salary increase in the past five years for many district employees, Reed said.

However, the board’s vote marks Navarro’s second raise in two fiscal years. He was first granted a 6% raise, which boosted his salary by $14,376 annually, in October after his performance evaluation.

Navarro could not be reached for comment.

Navarro was hired in July 2012 at a relatively low base salary because the district was trying to rein in costs during budget cuts, Foley said Friday.

He accepted the position with the promise that his salary would be reevaluated within a year. Trustees approved the increase to give him a salary comparable to what other superintendents in Orange County were earning, officials said.

Although Foley doesn’t oppose the raises, she said she would rather give increases based on the accomplishments of each individual.


“I’m not necessarily of the mind-set that you have to have [salaries] match,” said Foley, who is running for a seat on the Costa Mesa City Council. “I support individual adjustments based on merit, goal-setting and accomplishments.”

While salary increases were granted for many other employees, the amount of money they will receive is not the same, she said.

For example, a 6% raise to someone making $30,000 is different than for someone making $200,000 annually.

“In our economic reality, some people make more than others, and when adjustments are made those discrepancies continue to exist,” Reed said. “Does that make some folks unhappy? It certainly does, but that’s the essence of the American system.”