State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) was among a group of legislators last month who introduced a bill to close a loophole used by school districts to get around public disclosure requirements for posting their salaries through the State Controller's Office, according to a statement from Glazer's office.
In addition to Glazer, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) authored the legislation -- Senate Bill 924 -- under which school districts would be required to report the annual salaries of employees to the state controller, complying with the same requirements for local agencies, including each county, city and special district.
The legislation would also require the controller to annually publish this information on its website.
"School districts should be disclosing the pay of their top administrators just like every other public entity," Glazer said. "They have used a loophole in the law to prevent easily accessible public disclosure. This legislation will close that gap."
Under current law, school districts are required only to report financial and salary information to the state superintendent. Some districts and other agencies have voluntarily reported to the controller. In all, only 23% of California school districts in 2021 reported their annual compensation reports to the state controller, according to Glazer's office.
The need for more transparency in salary reporting came to light last year after a Southern California News Group investigation found that the superintendent of the Ontario-Montclair School District, James Hammond, made more than $700,000 in both 2020 and 2021 "through a series of out-of-the-ordinary perks", according to the state legislators. However, his salary was listed on the school district's website as less than half of his actual total.
Garcia said she is proud to be working with Glazer to finally "close this loophole once and for all."
"It makes me angry to learn that eight years after the passage of my AB 2040 in 2014, most school districts are not complying with the intent of the law due to a loophole," Garcia said. "This type of behavior is why the public loses trust in our government. Sunshine is good for the democratic process and if your decisions are valid, you shouldn't be afraid to share that with the public."
Ochoa Bogh said the bill is about good government and accountability.
"As our state government grapples with a hefty budget surplus, it is more important than ever to ensure all tax dollars are appropriately allocated and are efficiently serving the needs of Californians," said Ochoa Bogh. "SB 924 will make way for greater transparency in our education system by allowing families to see how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. There is nothing more important than the value of an education. Let us make sure our kids receive the highest quality to ensure their future success."