Newly tapped San Diego Unified Superintendent Bill Kowba is poised to work for less money on a shorter contract than his predecessor, Terry Grier. A draft contract that the school board is slated to sign off on Tuesday night would give Kowba a $250,000 salary, compared to the $269,000 given to Grier. It spans for three years, while Grier had a contract that covered four.

Kowba’s contract has no performance bonuses, a unique part of Grier’s contract that was never actually carried out. Grier was supposed to get bonuses for meeting mutually agreed goals with the board.

And the contract sets some stiffer limits on expenses. Kowba can’t spend more than $6,000 annually on membership fees and dues for organizations such as the Association of California School Administrators unless he gets the green light from the school board. Grier had no specific cap on expenses in his contract. If Kowba is terminated, he will get his benefits for up to six months; Grier would have gotten up to a year.

The oddest change in the contract that I spotted was that while Grier got a provision saying that “in the event of public controversy or for any other reason,” if the board or the superintendent thought it was necessary, the school board would provide “appropriate security measures for the safety of the superintendent and/or family” for up to four days. Kowba doesn’t have that provision.

Huh. Maybe Kowba is not expected to inspire the kind of controversy that would force the school board to provide security for him and his family?

I bet your eyes are sharper than mine. Want to see the contracts for yourselves? Here is the draft agreement with Kowba, the contract and amendments with Grier, and earlier contracts with former superintendents Carl Cohn and Alan Bersin. Post your comments here on the blog or shoot me an e-mail with any interesting observations at


Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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