Austin ISD superintendent receives 3 percent salary increase

Paul Cruz Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz sits in his Sixth Street office Feb. 4.[/caption]

The Austin ISD board of trustees approved a 3 percent salary increase for Superintendent Paul Cruz during its Oct. 26 regular board meeting by a 7-1-1 vote.

Trustee Jayme Mathias voted against the salary increase and trustee Edmund Gordon abstained from the vote.

The salary increase was approved after trustees evaluated Cruz's performance as superintendent since his appointment on Jan. 26. Cruz was also interim superintendent from April 2014 until his appointment.

The board evaluated Cruz based on several criteria including how students performed during the 2014-15 school year as well as his help in developing a plan to increase student enrollment, board President Gina Hinojosa said.

"Overall, the board is pleased with the leadership and progress made by the district under Dr. Cruz's leadership," Hinojosa said. "Dr. Cruz has worked diligently to regain the trust of the community by being an active listener and cultivating working relations and open communications with stakeholders across the district."

On enrollment, Hinojosa said the district under Cruz has expanded its Pre-K program to hundreds of students. On student performance, she said the class of 2014 graduation rate was 86.3 percent, which is an all-time high for the district, and the attendance rate for the 2014-15 school year was 95.2 percent.

Hinojosa said Cruz did not receive a 3 percent salary increase that all other AISD employees received as part of the fiscal year 2015-16 budget.

Before voting, trustee Paul Saldaña said Cruz's base salary is set at $286,000 per year and that eight other ISDs have superintendents who are paid more than Cruz. He added that a 3 percent increase for Cruz is consistent with the increases approved for teachers and said such an increase would be fair.

Mathias said a 3 percent increase for a teacher is not the same as a 3 percent increase for an executive position, adding that he was concerned the board is having no discussion about income gaps.

The board will evaluate Cruz again in October 2016, Hinojosa said.