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Editorial: Roosevelt schools already have an advocate in Albany

A file photo of Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Nassau)

A file photo of Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Nassau) speaking during a Assembly Session at the Capitol. (June 14, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

The Roosevelt school board surely doesn't need to hire a $350-an-hour special consultant to help the troubled district obtain a renewal of $14 million in special state aid from Albany.

Roosevelt already has a very powerful advocate -- someone well-connected to the leadership of the State Assembly, someone who knows the district's needs intuitively and someone who has deep experience advocating successfully for more funding. And better yet, her services would come without a fee.

Assemb. Earlene Hooper just needs to look in a mirror to find the person who could really help the struggling students she represents.

That's why it's so puzzling that Hooper, never thought of as one fond of sharing the spotlight, would want to turn over this important task. The Hempstead Democrat is pressuring the Roosevelt district superintendent and trustees to hire Lance Clarke, her good friend. Clarke, an attorney and Hempstead Village justice, submitted a proposal to the district estimating the task would require 35 to 40 hours of work a month, at $350 an hour, "to act as your best advocate in Albany to restore, and if possible, enhance the special assistance funding" for the district.

Let's leave aside the political astuteness of asking your fellow legislators for more millions when $135,000 of the district's cash is being paid to your friend, and contributor, to lobby you. Besides his work in Albany -- travel expenses are additional -- Clarke would also have local tasks, including reviewing district finances, attending board meetings, and conferring with the PTA, teachers and staff.

Isn't that the superintendent's role? Roosevelt hired the highly regarded Deborah Wortham of York, Pa., in June, the first locally selected administrator in 11 years following the state's return of control to the local board. That board should tell Hooper that if she wanted to run the district, she should have applied for the job herself.


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