It's an article of faith for many residents and employees of the Hesperia Unified School District: The financial problems facing the Victor Valley's largest employer could be solved in large part if senior officials were paid less.


The total compensation -- salary and benefits -- for the HUSD's cabinet, including Superintendent Mark McKinney and his four assistant superintendents, is $852,931, according to Director of Fiscal Services Laura Carevic.


The district is planning on making at least $2.86 million in cuts. (If Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to extend expiring tax cuts doesn't happen, the HUSD will need to make another $7 million in cuts.) With just the $2.86 million in cuts, the 2011-2012 spending budget is expected to total $144.7 million, or $6,744 per each of the district's 21,456 students.


Employee salaries make up the vast majority of non-restricted funds available to the district (as opposed to funds that can only be spent on building construction and maintenance, for instance), and teacher salaries and benefits make up the lion's share of that.


On average, a teacher in the HUSD receives $65,123 in a mix of salary and benefits. (Salary and benefits are determined by time worked in the district, with regular salary increases coming automatically over time. Teachers with more advanced education beyond simply a bachelor's degree can advance instead on higher pay scales.)


The total compensation package for Hesperia Unified's cabinet officials equals, in other words, the compensation for 13 teachers receiving average compensation.


In March, Hesperia Unified sent pink slips to 24 teachers, warning them that their services may not be required in the coming school year.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.