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Syosset residents defend superintendent

Carol G. Hankin, superintendent of the Syosset School

Carol G. Hankin, superintendent of the Syosset School District, receives a round of applause at a school board meeting. (March 7, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

Claims that Syosset school superintendent Carole Hankin is overpaid are unfair and fail to account for the money she has saved the district, said parents and teachers who attended last night's board meeting to show their support.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said school salaries for superintendents in her range - Hankin earns $386,868 annually - are far too high. He wants to cap superintendents' salaries at $175,000.

Those who know Hankin or have worked with her during her 21 years at the helm said her critics don't have a clear view of what she has meant to the district.

"As a direct result of Dr. Hankin's management skills and oversight of the fiscal policies and practices of our district, Syosset has earned an Aa1 bond credit rating from Moody's, which saves the district hundreds of thousands of dollars every year," School Board president Marc Herman said in a statement released before the meeting. "We are proud to represent the Syosset School District and we are most proud and grateful that we have an educational leader and CEO of Dr. Hankin's caliber to lead us, particularly during these tumultuous economic times."

More than 100 parents, teachers and students attended the meeting. A discussion of recent academic success in the district was met with a minute-long standing ovation. Several in attendance credited Hankin for the achievements.

Hankin, who attended the meeting, thanked her supporters and said before the meeting that her 21 years as superintendent reflects her value.

Earlier this year, Cuomo derided superintendent salaries and questioned why so many earned far more than he did as the state's highest elected official. Cuomo pointed out that 209 superintendents statewide earn more than $175,000. Hankin has the highest salary of any superintendent on Long Island.

Supporters said her salary paints only a partial picture of what she does.

Mitchel Parker, a parent of three in the district, said Hankin was being unfairly targeted.

"The Dr. Hankin witch hunt is counterproductive and frankly offensive," he said.

Sheryl Peters of Syosset said Hankin has worked hard to help win numerous grants for the district. Peters said Hankin is fairly paid for what she brings. "The amount her salary costs taxpayers is minimal," Peters said.

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