The Panama-Buena Vista Union School District Tuesday night unanimously approved a contract of employment to hire Kevin Silberberg as its new superintendent.

Silberberg's three-year contract begins July 1 and continues through June 30, 2016. He will earn a base salary of $180,800 a year, and an automobile allowance of $540 per month, in addition to health and welfare benefits and 22 working days of paid vacation a year, plus 12 sick days.

After the measure passed, Silberberg thanked the board and joked that he'd happened to eat a fortune cookie this week that foretold, "You will make a change for the better."

Silberberg, 54, lives in the district and his adult children went through PBVUSD.

"Just looking around the room, I see so many familiar faces," he said. "It feels like family already."

Silberberg is taking over the position being vacated by Superintendent Kip Hearron, who is retiring at the end of the month.

He comes to the district from Standard School District in Oildale, where he has been superintendent for six years. Standard has four schools and 2,850 students. Panama has 16,732 students at 24 schools.

The board presented Hearron with a proclamation and thanked him for his years of service.

He choked up a little as he, in turn, thanked the board and district employees for their hard work and support of children over the course of his 24 years with PBVUSD.

Some students don't have an ideal home life, and school is their respite, Hearron said.

"Without you, sometimes they wouldn't know what they can become, so I appreciate all that you do for our kids, and I wish all of you success in the future," he said.