Fred Navarro

Newport┬┐Mesa Unified School District's Supt. Fred Navarro. (SCOTT SMELTZER / Daily Pilot / July 11, 2012)

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The school board has approved extending Supt. Fred Navarro's employment term to 2016 and increasing his annual salary by $14,376.

In closed session, six of the seven voting members on Tuesday approved a 6% pay raise for Navarro, said Newport-Mesa Unified school board President Dana Black.

Black said that under Navarro's supervision, the district is "thriving," test scores are improving and the district's priorities are more academically driven than in previous years.

"Now more than ever, we need to recognize and compensate him for the work he's doing," she said.

Although school board trustee Katrina Foley voted in support of the raise in public session, Black stated that in closed session Foley did not support Navarro's pay increase.

Foley expressed concern about the effect his pay raise may have on the expectations of other district staff who may be seeking increases.

"I'm going to be supporting the motion, but I would like to see us address what I think are salary increases that are necessary with respect to our classified staff," she said. "This is not to minimize anything you've said about [Navarro]."

The district hired Navarro in July 2012. At that time, his employment agreement had a three-year term, effective Aug. 1, 2012, through June 30, 2015, according to a staff report.

An evaluation of his performance was conducted in February, and with those results, Black directed staff to prepare an addendum to his employment agreement.

Navarro placed in the 89th percentile in his review and because his previous salary was on the lower end for most superintendents, this increase gives him a more competitive salary, Black said.

Kimberly Claytor, president of the Newport Federation of Teachers, congratulated Navarro during the meeting and said the board's decision is encouraging.

"The union views this as a positive indication that the board is dedicated to improving salaries in the district," she said.

Navarro was brought in at a lower salary because the district was trying to rein in costs during times of budget cuts, Foley said.

The new agreement will give a Navarro salary of $253,976, including a specified amount that was previously separate as a doctoral stipend. The agreement eliminates all future consideration of a doctoral stipend as an add-on to his salary, according to the report.

The agreement also specifies that Navarro must work 224 days during the fiscal year and adds a new clause required by law that states that in the event his agreement is terminated and he is convicted of a crime involving an abuse of his position, any money paid to him as a settlement of contract termination must be reimbursed to the district within 30 days.

The move stems from the case of former Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard, who was fired from the district in 2012 after he was found guilty of felony misappropriation of funds at a previous district. He earned $305,920 annually.