Priorities “Out of Line”

The Irvington School District just hired a very qualified  Superintendent at a generous starting salary of $249,000.00 (1/4 of a million) dollars. Now, in this proposed budget, taxpayers are asked to hire an Assistant Curriculum Superintendent at a salary of $160,000.00 (almost 1/5 of a million) dollars.

At the budget hearings, one Board member advocated overriding  the 2% tax cap and declared that “we should run our schools as we see fit.” He also defended the Assistant’s salary as “not out of line.” Before the public had their opportunity to speak, another Board member assumed that those in attendance were there to support exceeding the 2% tax cap, and a third Board member walked out of the meeting when the public session began, with over 20 people lined up to voice their opinions.

I was shocked by their hubris. Those Board members are oblivious to taxation with representation for the thousands of us (voters) who pay school taxes. For their reality check, many taxpayers with and without children in the schools, do not agree with raising our taxes any further, much less exceeding the 2% tax cap or wanting to hire a Curriculum Superintendent. It’s perverse that our students have to sacrifice valued subjects in their curriculum in order to pay the salary for a curriculum “Czar” and the costly demands of the teachers’ union. Our students’ education should always have priority with our tax dollars.

It is our administrators, including our new Superintendent, and the strong teachers’ union demands who should sacrifice and be willing to take on more responsibilities and stop automatic pay raises every year  in gratitude for their highly paid employment in our idyllic small school district. We only have 1700 pupils. The Chancellor of New York City schools, with over one million pupils, earns an annual salary of $250,000.00. That comparison should give every school taxpayer (voter) and every Board member “sticker shock” regarding what we pay our administrators.  New Jersey Governor Christie capped school Superintendents’ salaries at $175,000. Governor Cuomo wants to cap large district Superintendents at $175,000, and small districts (like ours) at $125,000. So there’s another reality check, that paying $160,000 for an Assistant Superintendent is way “out of line.”

Our property values are at risk.We are already paying high taxes. I can’t brag to a potential buyer of my home that the reason for the high taxes is that our school has highly paid administrators and  strong union rules and salary demands that inflate our school budget.  Hypothetically, I’d rather brag that the taxes are high because our district teaches languages starting in kindergarten  and that our school tax dollars are spent on students first. As a former realtor, I know that would be a lure to buyers. Think about it. When was the last time anything was proposed in our budget to spend on enhancing the scholastics of our school children? We are moving backward by cutting courses for the sake of costly employees. Our priorities are “out of line.”

It’s time that the students’ education and programs enchancing it, move to the front of the “line” in the mindset of our school district taxpayers.

We need to re-elect Robyne Camp, the only Board member to vote “no” to hiring an Assistant Curriculum Superintendent. She will continue to be fiscally prudent and counter the subjective “tax and spend” advocates on the Board, while she defends a quality education for Irvington students without asking them to sacrifice.

Linda Leary, Irvington

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