ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week will propose legislation to cap school superintendent’s six-figure salaries as a way to save school districts and their taxpayers $15 million.
Cuomo told The Associated Press that his cap would be based on student enrollment. His bill would provide for a salary of $125,000 for the smallest rural districts and up to $175,000 for the largest districts, often in wealthier suburbs.
Cuomo’s bill would make superintendents subject to the cap once their current contract expires.
Currently, 31 percent of superintendents make over $179,000 with the highest being the Syosset schools superintendent on Long Island who is paid $386,868. Cuomo’s proposal, should it be passed by the Legislature, could force lower salaries for 319 superintendents, nearly half of the top district administrators in the state.
“We must wake up to the new economic reality that government must be more efficient and cut the cost of the bureaucracy,” said Cuomo.
He has proposed a more than 7-percent cut in school aid to help contend with a $10 billion deficit and what he said is years of overspending. He said his cut can be handled by schools without layoffs and without hurting instruction.
“We must streamline government because raising taxes is not an option,” Cuomo told the AP. “Back office overhead, administration, consultants, consolidations are the best targets to find savings.”
Superintendents statewide have said they are unfairly singled out. They note that they oversee multimillion dollar budgets and hundreds or thousands of employees in an unusually complex job often requiring a doctoral degree. The job has for decades also been known for high turnover, often after a new school board is elected that wants to see its own choice in the job or a different direction for the district.
“There aren’t a lot of people going into those jobs right now,” said Robert Reidy of the Council of School Superintendents. “They’re 24-hour jobs, they’re high stress, and with the challenges we face right now, you want the best person,” Reidy said on the association’s Web site.
He notes superintendents’ salaries are now set through negotiations by the elected local school board. An e-mail message sent to the association’s executive director Sunday night wasn’t immediately returned.
Cuomo’s proposal would differ from similar efforts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in that he would allow local voters to override the salary cap to retain or attract a prospect who could command higher pay.
In New York, BOCES superintendents who oversee academic programs that serve several school districts already face a salary cap of $166,572.
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