SAN JOSE, Calif. – A recent story in the San Jose Mercury News indicated that public school districts across California – including the local San Jose Unified district – were “scrambling to balance their budgets.”

The main reason? Increases in salaries, health benefits and pension contributions for employees, according to the news report.

The situation had gotten so bad that the San Jose school board was considering the elimination of 150 staff positions, according to the Mercury News.

“It’s like a tidal wave of expenses coming our way,” school board trustee Kimberly Meek was quoted as saying.

One quick glance at the San Jose district’s administrative payroll promptly illustrates the issue, particularly when it comes to employee benefits.

Like most public school administrators – particularly in California – San Jose administrators are paid very well. In fiscal year 2016-17, a total of 155 administrators were paid a total of $16,281,784 in base salary, for an average of $105,044.

Ninety-two of those employees made at least $100,000 in base salary, averaging $118,552.

But the extra financial hit for the district came in the form of administrative benefits.

The 155 employees received a total of $5,547,839 in benefits, for an average of $35,793 per employee.

That brought the average compensation for a San Jose administrator to $140,783.

The people at the very top of the administrative pyramid – the superintendent and four top assistants – ate up a big chunk of the total payroll.

The San Jose superintendent made a base salary of $263,799, benefits worth $72,845 and various stipends totaling $7,200. That brought his total compensation to at least $343,844.

For that kind of money, one might expect the superintendent to do a lot of the administrating by himself, But that was not the case, because he was surrounded by expensive assistants.

The deputy superintendent made $219,833 in base salary, $54,609 in benefits and $7,200 in stipends. That added up to $281,641.

The associate superintendent made $183,194 in salary, $52,094 in benefits and $5,400 in stipends, for a total of $240,688.

The assistant superintendent made $159,299 in salary, $45,110 in benefits and $5,400 in stipends, for a total of $209,809.

Finally, the director of operations made a salary of $135,223, benefits worth $53,983 and stipends worth $1,744. That comes to $190,950.

Those top five big shots, all put together, cost the school district $1,266,932.

You can start to see where school board members feel a bit overwhelmed by the exploding payroll.