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Tilton pledges to slash superintendent salary by 15 percent if he is elected

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POSTED March 11, 2014 1:40 a.m.

One of the three candidates vying for the position of San Joaquin County Office of Education superintendent has made a campaign pledge to take a 15 percent voluntary reduction in salary if elected.

Jeff Tilton, who was recently named superintendent of charter schools in the Tracy New Jerusalem School District, made the announcement over the weekend.

Based on SJCOE Superintendent Mick Founts’ annual salary of $235,000, the 15 percent salary reduction being promised by Tilton would bring down the position’s yearly figure to $200,000, said Michael Babowal who is part of Tilton’s election committee.

“One of the first things he’d do will be to slash the salary of the superintendent,” said Babowal, adding it was Tilton who “came up with the idea.”

In his election campaign, Tilton maintains that “the County Office of Education is administratively top-heavy” while promising to “spend less of our tax dollars on bureaucracy and more on school safety, vocational education, parental choice, and restoring the traditional calendar….”

Tilton said a “big part” of his pledge to reduce the superintendent’s salary “is to show leadership and that there needs to be some changes administratively.”

Fredrick Wentworth used comparable counties – based on ADA (average daily attendance records) to negotiate his contract. In 2008, after Wentworth retired and Founts’ single-handedly won the uncontested election with no other candidate mounting an opposition, Founts simply asked for $235,000 as his annual salary. At the same time, he promised the county Board of Education he will not be requesting any pay increase for the next four years. By law, superintendents can ask for a 10 percent hike in annual wages every year.

If victorious in the elections, Tilton would be the third from Manteca to hold the position of county superintendent successively following Wentworth, who was on the job for many years, and Founts.

Vying in the June 3 primary elections for the superintendent position, along with Tilton, are James Mousalimas who is currently deputy superintendent for San Joaquin County Office of Education under Founts, and Michael Gillespie who assistant superintendent for Gateway community charters in Sacramento.

The two candidates to garner the most number of votes in June will go on to a run-off election in November. However, if one of the candidates wins 50 percent of the votes, plus one, he will be the declared winner and no elections will be necessary in November, according to a San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters staff.

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