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Syosset school chief doesn't seek extension

Syosset superintendant of schools Dr. Carole G. Hankin

Syosset superintendant of schools Dr. Carole G. Hankin is shown during a school board meeting at the South Woods Middle School. (Aug 6, 2012) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The second-highest-compensated school superintendent in the state has not asked for her contract to be extended, Syosset district officials said Wednesday.

Carole Hankin -- whose half-million-dollar salary and benefits package was singled out in 2011 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as an example of wasteful spending -- had routinely asked for a one-year extension to her five-year contract every spring.

"She typically would have asked in March -- and she did not," said board president Michael Cohen.

Cohen did not have any details about her plans. Hankin, 70, is now in her 23rd year heading the Syosset Central School District.

Board member Josh Lafazan said he believes Hankin will move on.

"As a trustee, the fact that we just renewed the deputy superintendent's contract and those for other administrators -- and her contract was left out of those renewals -- signals that she will serve out the rest of her contract and either retire or leave the district," he said.

Hankin did not return calls and emails seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the district said only that she "is currently working under the terms of her current five-year contract."

Unless extended, her contract would expire in June 2017. She currently receives $506,015 in compensation, including a $405,244 salary and other benefits. That placed her near the top of the list for school official pay statewide, according to an online database.

Under the terms of her contract, she gets 45 vacation days a year and is entitled to a "late-model district-owned automobile with her choice of safety options" for personal and professional use, with insurance, gas, maintenance and repairs paid by the district. The district also gives her free lifetime dental care and contributes $40,000 a year to a tax-deferred annuity of her choosing.

Lafazan, 18 elected to the school board in 2012, has been openly critical of the superintendent, in part because of her salary. Wednesday, he called Hankin "a fierce advocate for excellence in education for all students in the Syosset district," but said the district also has a reputation for secrecy.

Lafazan said Syosset fails at times to share even basic information with residents.

But Hankin has an ardent supporter in Roberta Dochter, 53, of Syosset, who has a son in 11th grade and another who graduated in 2011. As head of the district's parent-teacher associations, she's worked closely with Hankin for 15 years, she said.

"I have to say she's amazing," Dochter said, adding that Hankin's expertise in early childhood brain development has greatly improved the district's academic offerings. "She is what made this district what it is. The woman works around the clock. She lives and breathes Syosset."

The 10-school district serves roughly 6,600 students.

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