An outrageous raise for Gavilan College president

Significant local news events of the day have pushed the Gavilan College president’s whopping $42,000 salary increase off the front page. But it shouldn’t be ignored.
Congratulations to Steve Kinsella, who parlayed his top-three finalist position for the chancellor’s slot in the West Valley-Mission Community College District, into buckets of cash in an economy dominated by high unemployment, foreclosures and painful cutbacks for many.
What planet six of the seven Gavilan trustees who voted for the increase are living on isn’t clear. The same-old, same-old justifications for handing the president a series of annual whopper raises were uttered … “He’s done a remarkable job, especially with finances” … “A job search would have cost the college money …” and so on.
Kinsella is, has been and, hopefully, will continue to be a solid, dedicated and competent president at Gavilan College. That hardly means trustees should open the college’s vault and boost the president’s salary to $276,090 annually plus benefits. It’s an astounding number.
In the country’s largest school system, in New York City, home to 1.1 million students, Chancellor Dennis Walcott is paid $212,614. Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the nation with 672,000 students. Superintendent John Deasy earns $275,000. When hired, Deasy refused a pay increase.
Meanwhile, in our wonderful little hamlet, where Gavilan College hosts a shade over 7,000 students, the president gets an elite increase that puts him in the top tier nationwide for education institution managers.
Ironically, Kinsella might not have landed the West Valley-Mission Community College job. But frankly, that’s immaterial. Gavilan College should not be paying its president $276,090 per year. If Kinsella wanted a new challenge, so be it. That’s what capitalism is all about: opportunities are out there. Wish him well, thank him for his good work and get on with the search. In this economy, Gavilan trustees could have calculated the search cost, reduced the offered salary for the position by that amount or more over a contract period and maintained reason.
That’s not the case now.
None of this addresses the potential morale problems which are likely to surface now that the college president is deemed far more worthy than other employees. Trustees and Kinsella can argue this point ad infinitum, but it won’t change the reality from the rank-and-file’s point of view. This is going to be a sore spot, understandably, particularly when salary negotiations come up. It’s the kind of action that can turn a comfortable working presidency upside down.
Only trustee Tony Ruiz understands that. Kent Child, Mark Dover, Laura Perry, Mike Davenport, Tom Breen and Walt Glines  apparently don’t. Perry said, “Steve has everyone’s trust. That’s the important thing.”
After this ill-advised action, the question is how the trustees will manage to maintain the community’s trust.

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