Likening her to basketball great Michael Jordan, the five members of the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board heaped praise on Superintendent Wendy Sinnette at Tuesday’s meeting before voting unanimously to extend her contract for four years.
She is to earn $255,800 annually through July 31, 2021.
Previously, the board agreed to increase Sinnette’s minimum annual base salary from $185,000 to $225,800 for the 2015-16 school year, $240,800 in 2016-17 and $250,800 for 2017-18. Her base salary when she took over for retiring Superintendent Jim Stratton in 2011 was $161,000.
“Wendy continues to deliver an exceptional level of leadership,” board member Ellen Multari said. “There isn’t a day that goes by when your core values don’t shine through — your mantra, ‘What’s best for the students?’ is just emblazoned in my mind.”
“It’s a remarkable work ethic that Wendy has,” board member David Sagal said. “Fortunately, or unfortunately, she’s thinking about us 24/7 and she’s available at all times, day or night, anything she can do to make this district better she does.”
“There’s always a lot going on, and it isn’t always good, but we’re always learning, and I appreciate your openness,” added Kaitzer Puglia, the board’s vice president.
Said board member Brent Kuszyk: “We filled out our evaluations of Wendy’s goals and I just thought, ‘I feel like I’m evaluating Michael Jordan, Wendy does such a phenomenal job.’”
Two years ago, Sinnette helped steer the district through contentious contract bargaining sessions with the district’s teachers, which required about 90 hours of negotiations to reach an agreement that sufficiently closed the pay gap between the compensation earned by LCUSD teachers and those at similar high-performing districts.
In late December, former La Cañada Elementary School Principal Christine Castillo filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the district, claiming she was discriminated against after telling district officials she was pregnant shortly after being hired in 2012.
Recently, Niche.com gave LCUSD high marks in its annual rating of schools. According to the website, the district earned an A+ overall and was ranked No. 3 in L.A. County and No. 13 in the state.
“I can guarantee I will try to meet and exceed the current standards,” Sinnette said, thanking board members for their confidence in her.
A NEW BOOK TO CHECK OUT
The Governing Board was unanimous in approving the addition of “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood,” by Marjane Satrapi to the 12th-grade English reading list.
The book — a graphic novel — will not replace any other title, said Anais Wenn, assistant superintendent of educational services.
“It really provides texture to the Iranian Revolution, a real seminal moment in history that our students can understand,” La Cañada High School Principal Ian McFeat said.
ENROLLMENT UP, SLIGHTLY
Sinnette reported that the district welcomed 55 new students this year, less than the anticipated additional 100 or more. Thirty-nine of the new students are at the high school, she said, adding that the LCHS senior class is larger than the incoming kindergarten class. The transitional kindergarten program is full, however, with 44 students in 44 seats.
“The enrollment dust is finally settled,” Sinnette said. “It’s up, but it’s not as increased as we thought. It’s not what we anticipated, but it’s still positive.”
NEW STUDENT REP
Averi Suk was introduced as the latest student representative to join the Governing Board.
Puglia, who said she’s known Suk most of her life, offered highlights from the senior’s resume: Suk holds positions on mock trial and Model U.N. teams, is vice president of the Speech and Debate team, participates in National Charity League and Girl Scouts.