By Barbara Wood
Special to the Almanac
Beth Polito's contract as superintendent/principal of the Woodside Elementary School District has been renewed for three more years at a salary that will make her the highest paid superintendent of any similar local district, despite the fact that Woodside is a one-school district with 451 students.
Ms. Polito's salary will be $197,342 for the 2013-14 school year, with a 3 percent increase for the following two years, bringing her up to a little over $209,000 by the third year.
Wendy Warren, president of the district's board of trustees, said the board voted unanimously to approve the new contract.
"Beth has done a remarkable job during her two years at WES," Ms. Warren said. "She has built a very positive climate all around campus working well with all of our constituent groups, brought a tremendous positive focus on teaching and learning (and) dealt effectively with difficult matters created before her tenure began," she said. "Good superintendents are difficult to find and terrific ones even harder."
The Woodside district hired Ms. Polito in July 2011, replacing Diana Abbati, who had held the position for three years. Ms. Polito received her doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco, and had served as assistant superintendent, teacher, dean of students, vice principal, and principal in the Saratoga Union School District.
Woodside paid Ms. Polito $183,000 her first year.
Her new contact also has health, vision, dental and retirement benefits, including $12,096 for health plan expenses that exceed what the district usually pays for full-time certificated employees; $350 a month to use her own car for district business; and $100 a month to use her own cell phone for district business.
If the district wants to end the contract early without proving wrongdoing by Ms. Polito, it must give at least 120 days notice and pay her the lesser of a year's salary or the salary for the time remaining on the contract.
In the Portola Valley School District, which has two schools and 656 students, Lisa Gonzales was recently hired as superintendent. Her first year's salary, which covers only 11 months, is $170,207; her pay for the 2014-15 school year will increase to $183,000.
Ms. Gonzales' contract allows her 20 days of vacation time a year while Ms. Polito receives 24 days. Portola Valley has also offered to pay the cost of a professional coach for Ms. Gonzales.
In the Las Lomitas School District, with two schools and 688 students, Superintendent Lisa Cesario makes $185,000 a year.
Ms. Politio is not, however, the highest paid kindergarten to eighth-grade school superintendent in the immediate area. That designation goes to Maurice Ghysels, superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District, which is the largest local district with four schools and 2,926 students. Mr. Ghysels makes $205,000 annually under his current contract, which is the amount he has been paid since his hiring in 2011, according to his executive assistant, Lanita Villasenor.