Our network

Cuomo Proposes Cap on Superintendent Salaries | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Cuomo Proposes Cap on Superintendent Salaries

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced legislation Monday that would cap school superintendents' salaries based on district enrollment, with a maximum salary of $175,000 a year.

The proposal sparked immediate opposition from superintendents and other school officials, who said the state gives local school districts the authority to set superintendents' salaries.

Cuomo said his plan would save about $15 million a year.

"We must wake up to the new economic reality that government must be more efficient and cut the cost of bureaucracy," he said in a statement.

Thirty-three percent of the state's superintendents, or 223, earn more than $175,000 a year, according to Cuomo's administration,  with the highest being the Syosset schools superintendent on Long Island who is paid $386,868.

New York sets a flat salary of $166,572 a year for its boards of cooperative educational services' superintendents.

Under Cuomo's proposal, superintendents in the smallest school systems - up to 250 students - would earn up to $125,000 a year, and those in districts with 6,501 or more pupils would make $175,000 annually. The caps would apply to newly hired superintendents or existing superintendents as their contracts expire.

These are the caps the governor is proposing:

Tier 1, up to 250 students, $125,000
Tier 2, 251-750 students, $135,000
Tier 3, 751-1,500 students, $145,000
Tier 4, 1,501-3,000 students, $155,000
Tier 5, 3,001-6,500 students, $165,000
Tier 6, 6,501-plus students, $175,000

Source: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.

Buffalo Superintendent of Schools James Williams was making in excess of $220,000 before he signed a new contract last summer extending his services through the year 2014. Williams, who was ironically in Albany today to lobby for school aid, was unavailable for comment.

WEB EXTRA: Search a database of superintendant salaries in NY State as of May 2010-Search box is in the left margin of this story

"I don't think he (Gov. Cuomo) has thought the whole process through," said Richard Vogan, President of the Erie County Association of School Boards.

Vogan says he disagrees with the Governor's proposal for reasons both practical and philosophical.

"You want to attract the best candidate you can. If you set the bar too low you won't get quality candidates," Vogan told WGRZ-TV.

And while he concedes the salaries of Superintendents are often criticized, he likens their positions to Presidents of private sector companies who oversee multi million dollar budgets hundreds of employees --not to mention thousands of students.

Philosophically, Vogan also believes Cuomo's proposal represents another attempt to wield Albany influence over matters which should best be left for local taxpayers to decide.

"I think it's really taking away the ability of local governments to make their own choices. School budgets are voted on by the taxpayers, and if a school district wants to pay more for a superintendent --if they think that person is going to help their children-- I would think some school districts would be willing to do that," Vogan said.

The New York State Legislature will ultimately decide the fate of the Governor's proposal.

"I think it's a popular idea whose time may have come," said NYS Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo). "I think the majority of my colleagues would say that it's a good idea too," Hoyt said.

Hoyt said he supports the idea, if there were no restrictions on outside entities contributing to the salary of a school superintendent to augment the capped salary paid for by taxpayers.

"For example, if a local foundation wanted to contribute resources to try to entice the very best to come to Buffalo I'd encourage that," Hoyt said.

Vogan is also a member of the Lakeshore Central School District Board of Education, which last summer hired a new Superintendent of Schools with a salary of $147,000.

"In my local school district the salary of the Superintendent is .03% of the total budget, ...and if even if you took one third of that salary away, it would make a .01% difference in our budget, so it's miniscule. The Governor is kind of making superintendents the scapegoats of the financial situation. There are other areas we could find huge savings," Vogan said.

For example, Vogan suggests the Governor take a long hard look at trying to repeal a section of the Taylor Law known as the Triborough Amendment.

According to Vogan, this makes it possible for provisions of labor contracts to remain in effect once those contracts expire and until a new one is signed, ...giving significant bargaining clout to the unions.

"It means union employees still get raises through automatic salary step increases...because when a contract expires the terms of the previous contract are still in effect. This makes it very difficult to negotiate. After all, what incentive would there be for a union to negotiate a salary less than what they're getting if it would be less under the Tribourough amendment?" Vogan asked.

Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher from Eden. 

Click here to read Dave McKinley's latest blog.








































East Aurora Businesses