Schenectady selected by casino board

Schenectady selected by casino board

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Two Albany school admins get raises as district faces budget gap

ALBANY Albany City Schools say the district is facing a nearly $6 million budget gap and the school board is considering asking taxpayers to pay more if they dont receive more state aid. Last month two administrators already receiving six-figure salaries were granted raises.

We value good employees in the district and Bill Hogan and Kathleen Culligan go above and beyond in this school district and they are not the highest paid employees doing their work in the Capital Region even though you could make the case they have the hardest job, said Ron Lesko, Director of Communications for the district.

Culligan is the districts Human Resources Administrator. District data shows she currently makes $108,057. Under a new contract extension she will make $128,057 by the 2015-2016 school year, but will contribute five percent more for her health care.

Hogan serves as Business Administrator and currently makes $157,533 according to district data. Under his new contract extension, Hogan will make $172,107 by the 2017-2018 school year and will also pay more for health care.

Lesko said the contract extensions have been ongoing since last year and coincidently came up for approval ahead of budget season.

I suppose there was no mandate to give the raises. Those negotiations were going on for many months back to last summer and again the timing was not right and we recognize that, said Lesko. We recognize the timing was very bad and we understand the reaction it's causing in the community. It's made a tougher situation tougher for all of us and we apologize for that.

The school board is working to minimize impact to the classroom as it works to close the budget gap. If additional state aid doesnt come through, Lesko said the board is scheduled to meet four times and will decide next month if it needs to ask taxpayers to override the tax cap.

The Empire Center for Public Policy said the salary increases represent only a small portion of the overall budget for the district.

We can nit-pick and talk about individuals salaries and I think that's good and I think that's important looking at individual raises and holding them to the candle here is important, but when push comes to shove we have to look at the major cost drivers teacher salary costs are 70 to 80 percent of district costs, said Tim Hoefer, Executive Director at the Empire Center.

Empire Center data shows 94 individuals earned more than $100,000 in the district last year. The median teacher salary for 2012-2013 was $74,551. Hoefer and Lesko said state law requires them to come to the bargaining table starting with the current contract, which often means salaries remain flat or increase.

That's one of the mandates and probably one of the most significant mandates school districts and municipalities struggle with in this financial environment, said Lesko. When we sit down at the table the contract has to maintain the steps currently in the raise and we feel we need some more flexibility.

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