While the school board was united in appointing Donald Evans as Hayward Unified's new leader, there was some dispute over how much he should earn -- something that led one trustee to level accusations of racism against others.

Evans' three-year contract for $229,500 a year was approved in a 3-2 vote Wednesday night, with trustees Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia dissenting.

"We unanimously think he's the right choice for HUSD," Armas said, "but I could not support the business terms of his compensation."

Evans' salary, which does not provide health or retirement benefits, is the same as that of outgoing Superintendent Janis Duran. However, Duran had previously served as schools chief in San Lorenzo and Hayward, while this is the first such post for Evans.

"For a new superintendent, I thought we needed to start somewhere lower and go up from there," Heredia said. "This salary is going to be difficult to go up from."

Trustee Luis Reynoso said the salary was in the range that was advertised and was not an issue in hiring previous superintendents, and believes a racial factor is at work because Evans is black.

"It can be uncomfortable to remind people that we have not progressed in some ways when it comes to someone who looks different," Reynoso said.

He said if salary was an issue, it should have been addressed earlier in the search.

"What we're doing by bringing it up at this point is saying, 'We have confidence in you, but we don't think you're worth it,' " he said.

Heredia said she wouldn't acknowledge the racism accusation at Wednesday's meeting, but said she made the motion to appoint Evans in the first place.

"For anybody to say anything about race being an issue is absolutely appalling," she said, adding that two Latino and two white candidates were vetted during the selection process. "I have a track record of supporting competency."

Trustee William McGee said he questioned Armas and Heredia for balking on the superintendent's salary but not having an issue with hiring Associate Superintendent Francesca Sanchez in July for a salary of more than $180,000.

"There wasn't a study done on the position, and it wasn't advertised," McGee said. "It seems like we would have put the same effort into that position."

Evans was assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Compton and worked previously with Oakland Unified, where he oversaw elementary schools. He was appointed unanimously by the school board earlier this month, after a search that saw two previous interview processes fail when trustees couldn't agree on a candidate.

Evans' first day will be Nov. 7.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi. Read his blog at IBAbuzz.com/hayword.