County schools
Castruita's tenure was
one of discord
By Chris Moran
December 11, 2005

Rudy Castruita is
stepping down as
superintendent of the
county Office of
Education on his own
terms – for retirement, a
possible teaching job at
USC and widespread
accolades from his

But there was a long
stretch during his tenure
when Castruita
appeared to be one
vote away from losing
his job. In the late 1990s
and early in this
decade, the county
board of education
voted 3-2 on extensions
of his contract.

It was a board so
divided that Eugene
Brucker cast a tie-
breaking vote by phone
from home shortly
before he died of
cancer. When the board
could not break a 2-2
stalemate on a
successor for Brucker,
the Board of
Supervisors had to step
in and appoint one.

"Will the sun come up in
the morning? It was 3-to-
2," Harry Weinberg,
Castruita's predecessor,
said of the board in that
era under Castruita,
whom he praised for

Rudy Castruita
Age: 61

Residence: Mission Hills


San Diego County
superintendent of
schools, 1994-present

Santa Ana Unified
School District
superintendent, 1988-

principal, assistant
principal, teacher,
counselor, coordinator
of driver education, El
Monte Union High, Los
Alamitos Unified and
Santa Ana Unified
school districts, 1967-


California superintendent
of the year, Association
of California School
Administrators, 1992

Golden Oak Award, the
highest service award of
the Ninth District PTA
(San Diego and Imperial
counties), 2000

Named one of 12 tech-
savvy superintendents
by eSchool News, 2002


Castruita is married to
Jean Castruita, a
coordinator for the AVID
college-prep program in
the county Office of
Education. They have a
son and a daughter.

Publicly, Castruita, 61,
was a smiling, glad-
handing official who
generally kept to
themes more than
details in his speeches.
But in the spring of
1999, when 2-2 votes
repeatedly blocked the
county office's
acceptance of federal
funds, Castruita
sometimes vented his

In a news release in
May 1999 issued after
the board, on a 2-2
vote, declined to apply
for $5 million in federal
money for school safety
programs and for
literacy for children
learning English,
Castruita said: "That's
unacceptable. We're in
the business to help

Board members Jim
Kelly and Susen Fay
often voted against
federal grants because,
they said, they feared
the grants came with too
many conditions that
eroded local control of
schools. The county
office tabulated in 2001
during Fay's re-election
campaign that she had
voted against more than
$40 million in federal
grants. Eventually, all
the grants got three-
vote majorities.

"I was discouraged at
times," Castruita
acknowledged in an
interview this week, and
had been recruited as a
candidate for
superintendent jobs in
Dallas, Washington, D.C.,
and Los Angeles.

"I was committed to this
office and to make sure
that we did quality
things for San Diego
public education,"
Castruita said.

Today Castruita has a
five-member board that
unanimously supports

Board members credit
Castruita with uniting
the county's 42 school
districts on such issues
as funding for children's
mental health and
especially the creation
of the achievement gap
task force.

In 2003 Castruita hosted
a ceremony in which he
unveiled a compact
signed by
superintendents and
board members from
throughout the county to
have all seniors pass
the California High
School Exit Exam's math
portion by 2006. About
88 percent have done
so, and most of those
who haven't are special-
education students or

Castruita himself did not
speak English when he
entered kindergarten in
El Monte. He earned a
basketball scholarship
to Utah State University,
then kept a promise to
the grandfather who
raised him to never
forget his roots by
returning to El Monte to
teach in 1967.

It was the beginning of a
38-year career in public
education. He worked
his way up to
superintendent of the
Santa Ana Unified
School District. He was
named state
superintendent of the
year in 1992. Two years
later, he was hired in
San Diego.

Castruita has served on
numerous advisory
boards and committees,
among them the planning
group that helped devise
California's system of
rating schools and
mandating minimum
annual improvements
based on test scores.
Castruita takes credit for
pushing for a provision in
the system that requires
not only schoolwide
average improvement,
but improvement
specifically among
blacks, Latinos, English
learners and low-income

"The adage is 'All kids
can learn.' I don't
believe that. I really
believe that all kids can
learn if given the
opportunity," Castruita

The pressure of the
state system helps
promote educational
equity, Castruita said.
Schools cannot
concentrate their gains
among an elite group of
high achievers.

The achievement gap
task force has
coordinated teacher
training, devised
curricula, monitored
scores and set up
forums for idea-sharing
and swapping of
successful techniques.

"This is a huge issue for
every single school
district," said county
board member Susan
Hartley. "It's a support
system to tackle it. That
way you find out what
the best practices are."

In addition to the
technical expertise his
office offers, Castruita
has used his position to
be a spokesman and
ambassador for public
education. He has
frequently flown to
Sacramento to lobby for
money and programs.
He has gathered
leaders locally to bolster
support for education
funding, most recently
this year when he
accused the governor of
shortchanging San
Diego County schools
by $213 million by
reneging on a budget
deal, a charge the
governor's office denied.

"He is known as the
person who is the go-to
person for education in
San Diego County," said
county board President
Robert Watkins.

When asked this week
what the biggest threat
to public education is,
he said, "I think state
funding. I think the
resources that continue
to diminish from the
state of California and
really expecting our
teachers and districts to
do more with less has
been one of the biggest

Castruita has presided
over a huge expansion
of education spending.
The county Office of
Education had an
annual budget of $87.5
million when he arrived.
It has quadrupled during
his tenure. Castruita's
own salary, too, has
grown from $125,000 to

And the county office
built three multimillion-
dollar facilities loaded
with technology: the
Rindone Regional
Technology Center on
the office's Linda Vista
campus; the South
County Regional
Center; and the North
County Regional
Center, scheduled to
open in the spring.

Even while pushing for
more funding, Castruita
acknowledges there are
opportunities for more
efficiency. He supports,
for example, a proposal in
the state's master plan for
education that could have
cost him his job: reducing
the number of county
offices of education.
Castruita supports
consolidating the 58
county offices into 11
regional centers.

Castruita said he is
considering a job offer
from the University of
Southern California to
teach a class and serve
as national and
representative of the
university. He intends to
continue living in San
Diego and to commute to
Los Angeles if he accepts
the job.
6 retired educators in [San Diego] county are paid
more than U.S. education
Dec 27, 2010 –
Rudy Castruita, retired in 2006 as superintendent to the San Diego
County Office of Education, receives $281,034 or 107 percent of his
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CVESD public record

Rudy Castruita

Professor of Clinical Education,
Irving R. and Virginia Archer
Melbo Chair in Education
Administration, Faculty Council
Ed.D., University of Southern

Concentration: K-12 Education
Expertise: Expert on school budgets
and facilities, special education and
learners...additional information

Phone: (213) 821-4392

Curriculum Vitae & Publications

Rudy Castruita is a Professor of
Cinical Education at Rossier
where he specializes in the areas
of school budgets and facilities,
special education and English
language learners. He is also the
University of Southern California
Irving & Virginia Melbo Chair for
the Rosier School of Education
and in that capacity he brings
relevant urban reform strategies
and leadership experience to the
doctoral program at USC.

Dr. Castruita has taken an active
role among educational leaders.
He has served as past-president
of the California County
Superintendents Educational
Services Association (CCSESA)
and the California Urban
Superintendents. He currently
serves on the State
Superintendent's Advisory
Committee for Implementing the
Public School Accountability Act
of 1999, the Governance Task
Force of the state committee to
develop a Master Plan for
Education, the California Reading
First Initiative Leadership Team,
and was chair of the statewide
Language Arts Task Force to
Develop Standards for High
School Graduates. Most recently,
Dr. Castruita was appointed to the
State's Legislative Blue Ribbon
Commission on Autism by the
State's Legislators. Dr. Castruita
also serves on several national
boards including Scholarship
America, the prestigious
Educational Research &
Development Institute, and the
Board for Harvard's Urban
Superintendent Pr ogram.
Recently, Dr. Castruita was
nominated by the President of the
United States, and appointed by
the United States Secretary of
Education Margaret Spelling, to
serve on the President's Advisory
for the Department of Defense
Schools for military based schools

Dr. Rudy M. Castruita has been a
dynamic force in the field of
education for 39 years. He served
as the San Diego County
Superintendent of Schools for 12
years. Prior to that, he was
Superintendent of the Santa Ana
Unified School District. He
received his Ed.D., from the
University of Southern California
in Educational Administration, his
Master of Science from Utah State
University in School
Administration and his Bachelor of
Science from Utah State
University in Social Science. Dr.
Castruita's accomplishments in
school reform have been
recognized throughout the
educational community, garnering
him numerous awards and
accolades for his dramatic reform
efforts and for raising student
achievement in low-wealth school
districts. He was named
California's Superintendent of the
Year, and he has received the
Marcus Foster Award from the
California Association of School
Administrators, that organization's
highest honor. Because of his
success in producing National
Blue Ribbon Schools and State
Distinguished Schools, Dr.
Castruita was asked to be the
National Blue Ribbon Schools
trainer and evaluator. He was
recently named one of 12 "Tech
Savvy Superintendents" in the
nation by E-School News.

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Los Angeles, CA 90089
Pensions: teachers versus city workers in San Diego
Morning Report
Dec. 29, 2010
by Randy Dotinga
Voice of San Diego

...Nice Non-Work if You Can Get It:

The U-T looks at educator pensions and finds that "the average retired educator in
San Diego County is paid $40,633 per year, or 58 percent of their final salary. That's
more than the average general city worker at $37,442 but less than the $67,428 for
firefighters or the $62,098 for police officers."

The retired county school superintendent, meanwhile, gets more than $200,000 a
year in pension proceeds - also more than his final salary. The paper tried to reach
the eight retired educators with the highest local pensions, seven former
superintendents and one former community college president. Two agreed to talk,
said their jobs were "very difficult." They also each get more than $200,000 in
pension proceeds a year.

One ex-East County school superintendent had this to say: "It's a very difficult job, a
60-hour-a-week job. None of us are rich from it. Some may think we are, but we are
not." Make a note of that, people who work 60 hours a week...

6 retired educators in county are paid more than U.S.
education secretary
With no clear way to fund retirement benefits, state system faces huge shortfall

By Maureen Magee and Danielle Cervantes
December 27, 2010
Top educator pensions, San Diego County

1. Rudy Castruita, retired in 2006 as superintendent to the San Diego County Office
of Education, receives $281,034 or 107 percent of his salary.
2. Kenneth Noonan, retired in 2007 as superintendent of the Oceanside Unified
School District, receives $249,011 or 92 percent of his salary.
3. Larry Maw, retired in 2005 as superintendent of the San Marcos Unified School
District, receives $229,326 or 98 percent of his salary.
4. Ralph Cowles, retired as superintendent of Vista Unified School District in 2006,
receives $223,632 or 97 percent of his salary.
5. Sherrill Amador, retired in 2004 as president of Palomar Community College,
receives $218,511 or 113 percent of her salary.
6. Warren Hogarth, retired in 2003 as superintendent of the La Mesa-Spring Valley
School District, receives $216,348 or 105 percent of his salary.
7. Louis “Lean” King, retired in 2009 as superintendent of the Encinitas Union
Elementary School District, receives $179,144 or 83 percent of his salary.
8. Thomas Anthony, retired in 2009 as superintendent of the Fallbrook Union High
School District, receives $173,812 or 89 percent of his salary.

San Diego’s pension problems have given the city a bad name nationally, but it’s
becoming more apparent every week that similar benefit levels and funding shortfalls
are plaguing governments small and large across the nation.

As part of an ongoing examination of these issues, The Watchdog has reviewed local
educator pensions and found a familiar story — high benefits with no clear way to
pay them.

The state teacher’s pension system faces a $40.5 billion shortfall over the next 34
years, in part because it owes payments for life to people such as Rudy Castruita,
the retired superintendent of the San Diego County Office of Education.

Castruita receives the region’s top educator pension of $281,034 a year, or 107
percent of his final salary. That pay in retirement exceeds U.S. Education Secretary
Arne Duncan’s 2009 base salary of $196,700. Castruita, a 1992 state superintendent
of the year, did not return several calls.

The review found:

• The average retired educator in San Diego County is paid $40,633 per year, or 58
percent of final salary. That’s more than the average general city worker at $37,442
but less than the $67,428 for firefighters or the $62,098 for police officers.

• About 5 percent of educators receive pensions that pay them 100 percent or more
of their final salary.

• Some 254 receive pensions of $100,000 or more, or 1.7 percent of the retirees.
That compares to 3.4 percent of city retirees.

As with the San Diego city pension system, benefits for current pensioners are locked
in and protected by law. Changes in the coming years could affect current employees
— and taxpayers — as policymakers struggle to fill the gap.

The Watchdog looked at the pensions of 15,358 local educators who are members of
the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The data represents a snapshot
from September 2009 to August 2010. The survey includes educators who retired as
recently as this year from the county’s 42 school districts, five community college
districts and other educational institutions.

Seven of the top eight pensions belong to former superintendents, career educators
whose experience includes everything from a teacher’s strike and bitter school board
politics to test score gains and academic innovations. The other top pension belongs
to a former community college president.

The top recipients retired after careers that lasted more than 30 years. Many of them
worked their way up from teacher to principal and top administrator.

The Watchdog attempted to reach all eight, and two agreed to comment.

Warren Hogarth, who retired from the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District in 2003
after nearly 37 years, worked in the district’s print shop during college, getting his
first teaching assignment at the elementary school he attended as a boy before he
was promoted to principal and eventually superintendent — a post he held for 21

“It’s a very difficult job, a 60-hour-a-week job. None of us are rich from it. Some may
think we are, but we are not,” said Hogarth, whose annual pension pays him
$216,348 or 105 percent of his final salary. “The job is like running a business or a
city; you are overseeing 22 schools, operating a bus system, feeding 16,000 kids —
not to mention the education part of it.”

Larry Maw, retired from the San Marcos Unified School District with a $229,326
pension, said he is distressed by the fiscal crisis for schools but that retirement
payments remain an obligation for public employers.

“It was a very difficult job, and I was very fortunate to have support throughout my
career from the district and board,” he said. “The pension is based on a formula.”

Most pensions are awarded as standard retirement packages that are based on a
retiree’s age, the number of years worked and their highest and final salaries. Some
educators can cash in unused sick time for pension credit.

Special programs can add more to an educator’s retirement. For example, in the last
decade, veteran educators with at least 30 years’ experience were eligible for
“longevity bonuses” that add up to $400 to monthly pension payments under a limited
program designed to help districts retain experienced employees. Educators also
receive a 2 percent per year “improvement benefit” in lieu of cost-of-living increases.

Educators who supplement their incomes by taking on extra duties — such as
advising the campus newspaper or coaching a team — could count those stipends
toward their retirement under a program that ends this year.

Higher-level administrators often negotiate more sophisticated retirement packages.

“Superintendents typically have between a two- to four-year contract, and they are
challenged to do a great deal in a short amount of time,” said Richard Thome, co-
director of the Educational Leadership Development Academy at the University of
San Diego. “It’s a difficult job and we need strong leaders who are qualified to lead
our school districts. Compensation has to correlate with that need.”


San Diego County
Retirees: 15,358
Collective annual allowance: $624.5 million
Average pension: $40,663
Highest pension: $281,034
Average final pay: $67,313
Average years of service: 26


Top city pensions, 2009, according to San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System

$299,103: Eugene Gordon, assistant city attorney

$247,312: Douglas McCalla, retirement system investment officer

$237,602: Thomas Clark, fire battalion chief

$235,936: Louis Scanlon, assistant police chief

$227,250: Anna Martinez, city librarian

Marcia Fritz, president of the nonprofit pension reform group, California Foundation
for Fiscal Responsibility, said CalSTRS pensions are not sustainable and are out of
sync with the private sector.

Any notion that top superintendent candidates would flee to the private sector without
generous public compensation plans are a scare tactic, Fritz said.

“Let them go,” she said. “Turnover in the public sector is a fraction of what it is in the
private sector.”

Educators pay 8 percent of their salaries toward their retirement, with taxpayers
contributing 8.25 percent from school districts and another 2 percent from the state.
Those contributions would need to rise to fill the $40.5 billion funding gap projected
over the next 34 years.

“The longer it takes to implement a solution, the costlier that solution will become to
the state of California,” said Ricardo Duran, spokesman for the state teacher pension

Meanwhile, retired educators are cashing their growing pension checks as school
districts cut programs and layoff teachers.

For example, Hogarth’s pension income grew by 2 percent last year, even as
teachers in his former La Mesa-Spring Valley School District were directed to cut pink
erasers in half to stretch their limited classroom supplies and save money.