Yonkers ed board to vote again on contract

Yonkers Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio. (June 25, 2012) Yonkers Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio. (June 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim Alcorn

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The Yonkers Board of Education on Monday scheduled a new vote on Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio's contract extension after the city's inspector general raised concerns about the approval process.

Inspector General Kitley Covill earlier Monday said that the Board of Education failed to comply with open meetings rules when it neglected to put the superintendent's contract extension on the agenda of the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee's June 12 meeting or on the agenda of the June 20 gathering of the full board when the issue was taken up.

"The Yonkers taxpayers were deprived of open, transparent governance," Covill wrote in a report of her findings.

She recommended that the vote be rescinded.

The inspector general's report also found that the extension until June 2018 constituted a six-year contract, and state law allows superintendent contracts only in five-year increments.

In response to the report, the board will revise the contract extension until 2017 and put it on a future meeting agenda, according to a news release.

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"We thank the inspector general for providing her insight and will use her guidance to rectify this issue," said Yonkers Board of Education President Paresh Patel in the release.

The contract offers Pierorazio no increase from his $260,000 annual salary and no change in benefits. He was appointed superintendent in December 2005, and his current contract doesn't expire until June 30, 2015, which Covill said highlighted that the vote was no emergency.

Along with the written statement, the board provided a letter detailing Pierorazio's accomplishments in the district.

Pierorazio, the 2011 New York State Schools Superintendent of the Year who saw one high school rated at the top of two national ranking lists in 2012, wouldn't say whether he was being recruited by other districts. Pierorazio said the board was looking for long-term stability in the position, which is why they extended the contract three years before its expiration.

"With the way the budget outlook is for the City of Yonkers, I'm satisfied with the salary," Pierorazio said. "It's not about making money. It's about finishing what I started."

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Many parents would have wanted the opportunity to comment on the extension, said Kevin Gray, a member of the advocacy group Yonkers Parents United. He added that overall, Pierorazio is a great leader, but there are parents who are concerned about his salary and benefits.

"There would have definitely been people who wanted to use their public time to address that agenda item," Gray said.

Parents have expressed concern in the past about the Board of Education's transparency, he said.

Mayor Mike Spano released a statement Monday saying that he prompted the investigation and supported the inspector general's recommendations.

"There is no question that the superintendent is a dedicated leader and is committed to the mission of the Yonkers Public School System," Spano said. "However, the manner in which the June 20 action was taken is not the way we should be conducting business here in Yonkers."

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