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Legislator Reacts to Cuomo's Proposed Superintendent Salary Cap

The Governor's proposed new bill would slash superintendent salaries across Long Island.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that he will propose a new bill that will cap the pay of superintendents across the state at a maximum of $175,000. It's a move that would significantly cut the pay of Superintendent Carole Hankin, who earned $386,868 in 2010 -- the highest on Long Island. 

Currently 223 or 33 percent of school district superintendents earn more than $175,000, according to reports. At districts with 250 or fewer students, the proposal is a cap of $125,000, while the cap for superintendents at districts with more than 6,500 students, such as Syosset, is $175,000.

But , D-Glen Cove, of the 13th State Assembly District -- which covers parts of Syosset and Woodbury -- said the salary cap bill doesn't include other high-paid school employees.

"It doesn’t include assistant superintendents, central staff and the dozens of consultants that each district re-employees," Lavine said. "But it’s something worth discussing."

In addition to that, Lavine said the bill could run into a couple of problems. 

"If it became law, it would be subject to a public override of 50 percent," Lavine explained. "I have no doubt the public would override it in certain communities such as Syosset and other 13th District communities."

Cuomo said the move would save about $15 million for the state, but Lavine argued that it is not much in comparison to other costs.

"That doesn’t do a whole lot in comparison to the approximate $20 billion the state spends alone on education," Lavine said. 

While the bill may not save that much money statewide, Lavine said what it has done it stimulate the debate. Hankin and the Syosset Central School District could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but the district had this to say in a statement released earlier in the school year:

"Throughout her tenure, Syosset has been recognized as one of the top-performing districts in our region, as well as in the state and country," the district said. 

"Through Dr. Hankin’s efforts, our District continually receives significant funding for our outstanding educational program through grants and from our local, county and state governments," the district said. "Under her stewardship, our District’s financial standing continues to receive the highest bond credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service, which saves the taxpayers of our community hundreds of thousands of dollars annually."

Leone Baum March 02, 2011 at 01:30 PM
Stop me if I am wrong, but the figures only reflect salaries. Benefits add up to another 30% or more, about $120,000 in Hankin's case, plus a lifetime on pension and free health care. It might help the public to understand the true magnitude of the issue if the correct numbers were described. Thanks for good coverage.
Christina Wrigley March 02, 2011 at 02:35 PM
It's a good start! There is so much waste in the districts, yet everytime a budget comes up for vote we get told that the kids will be the ones getting all the cuts to their programs if we don't pull the yes lever. Certainly not these overpaid administrators. We are all cutting back these days, but not them? And that sounds like a veiled threat that their district does well only because this guy gets an overinflated salary?? Really...what gall.
Joe March 02, 2011 at 08:12 PM
You know everytime someone tries to touch Hankin or the Syosset school district we get the same old nonsense about how well the school district does and bla bla bla. Enough already. Holding the people in this community hostage over education and NO we are not all over paid bankers and lawyers has to stop. Syosset is a beatiful community but the cost of living here is nuts. I urge everyone to vote NO come the school budget. We must send a clear message that the we are fed up.
Randy March 02, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Paying a School Superintendant $387,000 is unconscionable and her predecessor, whose contributions were principally to hurt students' scholarship applications by refusing to disclose their class ranks to colleges, made even more. How did we get to this state of affairs? With pension and other benefits, the Supt. makes $500,000, all coming out of our pockets as taxpayers. The $175,000 is generous under the circumstances and it is time to right the ship on overpaid school district employees whose benefits and pensions we in the private sector would kill for. Syosset is not Nassau's top-ranked school. Last I saw, it was not even in the top 10. Why are we all so stupid as to keep approving the school budgets each year? I know we are number one in litigation fees paid to defend lawsuits brought by parents and school employees. That's another dubious distinction that the people of Syosset should question and change. Our taxes are making this district unaffordable to the middle class and depressing property values. I'm sure there is no shortage of qualified Superintendant candidates who would gladly accept $175,000 per year.
Leon Karvelis May 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I used to live in Syosset and moved to Connecticut. I now serve on a school board in a high achieving district and on a regional educational services board similar to BOCES. I am absolutely astounded at the pay differential between the bloated Syosset SD superintendent and assistant superintendent. The claim is made that their salary disparity has to do with tenure and quality of the educational outcomes. Who would leave or retire if they were making that kind of money? And the finer public schools in Connecticut which have equal quality outcomes and college admissions data that rival Syosset's pay their equally qualified superintendents half of what the Syosset taxpayers are forced to fork out. Having recently spearheaded a search for a new superintendent for our regional school district, I am fully aware of comparitive compensation levels both in and out of the region and Syosset's numbers distorted our pay grid by a considerable measure. I am mystified as to why the taxpayers/voters of Syosset and the school board put up with this gouging. And I really feel for those taxpayers on fixed income who would see a measurable savings in their property taxes if these compensation levels reflected reality. 'Tis sad... Leon Karvelis

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