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Kings Park school administrators given raises

Kings Park High School at 200 East Main

Kings Park High School at 200 East Main St. houses students grades 9 through 12. It is the only high school in the Kings Park Central School District. (June 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Fran Berkman

The Kings Park school board has approved raises for 13 district administrators and contract employees.

The 1.75 percent salary increases, approved in a 3-1 vote at Tuesday night's board meeting, will take effect for the 2013-14 school year. Among the increases: Superintendent Susan Agruso is scheduled to receive $216,376; Assistant Superintendent Ralph Cartisano, $182,849; and Assistant Superintendent Philip Kenter, $139,805.

Other employees who will receive increases include the senior stenographer to Cartisano at $53,968; transportation supervisor at $58,077; and district clerk at $36,792.

Combined, the 13 raises represent a total of about $19,000, Agruso said.

The raises were included in the nearly $83 million budget passed in May, which called for cutting the equivalent of 11.4 full-time teaching posts.

A parent who spoke at the meeting decried the board's decision. "I just find it very hard to believe you're going to have more kids in the classroom, but you got rid of teachers and everyone gets raises," said the woman, who later declined to be identified. "That's not fair to the children."

Board president Marie Goldstein said the layoffs were "unfortunate . . . but at this point this is the decision that the board has made. I do believe that our students will still have a sound education."

Board member Tom Locascio said it was important to remember that the 13 employees have taken pay freezes for several years, while "the teachers' increase alone this year in comparison, under the current contract, is more than $1 million."

"We've got to show that this board is committed to our employees -- all of our employees, not just our teachers . . . but the folks in central office that do put in incredibly long hours to make sure that this whole operation runs," he said.

Locascio, Goldstein and Charles Leo voted for the salary increases. Liz Barrett was not present, and Diane Nally voted no.

After being pressed by Goldstein to reveal why she voted no, Nally said she disagreed with a provision that would allow the employees to use 90 days of their accumulated sick days at retirement to pay for their portion of health insurance premiums.

"We are in, right now, very uncertain times as far as our financial stability over the next few years, especially since we don't have teachers' contracts," said Nally, referencing the fact that the Kings Park teachers union just completed the second year of working under a contract that expired in June 2011.

Goldstein said the benefit of using accumulated sick days toward health insurance premiums is in the current teacher contract and since contract employees retire sporadically, it wouldn't impact the district all at once.

Jim Pappas, president of the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association -- a union of about 290 teachers and guidance counselors -- said the comparison between teachers and contract employees in the central office was "apples and oranges."

"When you're cutting programs, when class sizes are enormous, when you're making it very difficult for some students to get the attention that they used to in the past - to take a raise like that, some might consider it ill-advised," he said, adding that the step increases for teachers are contract obligations since teachers start at lower salaries.

Agruso said the board has tried to "standardize contracts" between its employees and have been "gradually putting in some provisions that are comparable to what are in the teacher union contracts. . . . Everybody has to do their part."

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