UPDATE: We will be discussing this article on Blog Talk Radio at 4 pm ET Today.
The growth in budgeted spending on administrative compensation by the New Rochelle Board of Education has grown by 81% since the 2002-03 school budget nearly three times the rate of inflation over the past 10 years, based on an analysis of school budget records by Talk of the Sound.
Between May 2002 and May 2012, total U.S. inflation as measured by CPI was 28%.
Every year the administration cries poor with the school boards serving as the Superintendent's Greek Chorus and yet administrative salaries have grown at a staggering rate with new positions regularly being added at the central office and in the school buildings. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has cited superintendents’ compensation as a major factor in the growth of school spending.
The 2002-03 budget spending for 6 Cabinet Positions (Superintendent and 5 Assistant Superintendents was $746,146. In 2012-13, this figure rose to $1,271,305 for 5 Cabinet Positions (Superintendent and 3 Assistant Superintendents and 1 Assistant to the Superintendent). Despite eliminating 1 position and downgrading a second, total Cabinet-level spending rose by 70% during the past decade.
The elimination of an Assistant Superintendent position after the departure of Fred Smith in 2008 has masked the full extent of the increase; lines items in the budget may have been improperly transferred to other Assistant Superintendent positions. The average compensation for a cabinet member rose from $124,358 to $254,261 during that period, an increase of 104%.
The 2002-03 budget spending for administrative and supervisory earning over the qualifying amount ($97,000) was $5,383,413 including salary plus an estimate of 35% of salary in benefits. In 2012--13, this figure rose to $9,801,396.
The 2012-13 lists 47 qualifying administrative and supervisory positions as opposed to just 35 qualifying positions in 2002-03. There is only one Middle School Assistant Principal position ($163,806) listed in Appendix C of the 2012-13 budget. There are two such positions: one at Albert Leonard Middle School and one at Isaac E. Young Middle School. The 2002-03 budget document does not list any salaries for three positions: an Elementary School Principal (est. $120,000), Middle School Administrative Dean (est. $107,000) and High School House Principal (est. $100,000). These missing positions and salaries were added back to calculate the totals and growth figures. Total spending for qualifying administrative and supervisory positions rose by 82% over the past decade.
Chapter 474 of the Laws of 1996 amended New York State Education Law Sections 1608 and 1716 to require that Superintendent and Administrative Compensation be published in each year's school budget document. This includes any supervisor or administrative employees scheduled to receive over an established amount determined by the state government. In 2002-03 that figure was $97,000. This year, for the 2012-13 budget, the figure is $120,000. In New Rochelle, this information is included each year in Appendix C of the annual budget document.
An apples-to-apples comparison is complicated by the change in the cut-off figure for reporting supervisor or administrative employees and upgrades in titles for certain positions (e.g., the Director of Technology is not listed in the 2002-03 budget), and changes in position types (e.g, the cabinet had 6 positions in 2002-03 and 5 in 2012-13, the PR person working as a salaried employee for the district was replaced by a PR firm). Nonetheless, the aggregate data paints a picture of out of control spending with virtually no accountability within the administration and no oversight by the New Rochelle Board of Education.
Talk of the Sound has for years reported on the rigged-bid contracts, the thievery and misappropriation, the wasteful spending and bloated bureaucracy that shifts resources away from the classroom into the pockets of favored contractors, members of the friends and family network and various apparatchiks and hangers-on. But nowhere is the impact of the district's decade-long spending binge been more apparent than in the massive increase in the scale and scope of spending on administrative salaries and benefits.
This increase is despite of the supposed salary freeze that Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak claimed he and his cabinet voluntarily offered to take in 2011. Under the contract he signed in 2008, Organisciak's salary was increased from $263,250 to $266,500. Organisciak was to forego the next pay increase in his contract in January 2012. Instead, he signed a new contract. His budgeted salary for 2012-13 is $272,975 with a total compensation package worth $331,414. The district has never produced a clear explanation what happened with the "salary freeze" after the contract was signed or published a copy of the Superintendent's contract and that of his cabinet members: John Quinn, Diane Massimo, Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff and Reza Kohlifar.
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