School officials lash out against 'distractions'

Area educators are calling Gov. Andrew Cuomo's harsh words regarding New York's educational system a distraction, and say efforts to focus on teacher performance and cap superintendents' pay are drawing attention away from the real issue a $1.5 billion cut in state aid to schools.

The governor recently released his budget, and the senate and assembly are set to release individual ones, with proposals such as a $163,000 salary cap for superintendents and a repeal of the Last In First Out law being discussed as well.

Cohoes City School District Superintendent Robert Libby, whose salary is $151,424, said these proposals have brought the focus off of what really needs to be done in the state, and that's pass a fiscally responsible budget.

He [Cuomo] has set a distraction from what the real problem is," he said. "The problem is a $1.5 billion cut in state aid to education. Rather than focus on that direct issue, he has created other issues to make people forget about how serious the problem really is."

The state is not only in trouble, but the entire country is as well, and Libby said it is not superintendents' salary that has caused the problem. Instead, the cause is runaway health insurance expenses and energy costs, two things Libby suggested Cuomo focus on.

He even suggested that the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli lower pension contribution rates during the tough economic times.

Despite what happens at the state level, Libby has taken his own steps to save money for the district.

"In Cohoes, all central office administrators and the principals association have agreed to not take a raise," he said.

The salary of the superintendent is negotiated with the school's board of education, according to North Colonie Central School District Superintendent Joseph Corr, who is also taking a salary freeze for the 2011-2012 school year.

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