Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 24 June 2011 00:00
Mineola School Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler received a new contract with the school district at a special meeting last Monday night at the Willis Avenue School.
The board had been negotiating the new contract for the past few weeks following rumors that the New York State Legislature would impose a cap on the salaries of school superintendents sometime this week. Governor Andrew Cuomo touted the cap of $175,000 not too long after his election.
The proposed salary cap for a district of Mineola’s size would be $155,000 in total compensation including benefits, health and pension. The salary is determined by the size of the district, specifically the number of students in attendance.
One of the main problems with the cap is that several teachers in Mineola currently make that salary. Dr. Nagler’s current salary according to the 2010-2011 school district budget was $202,800. It was noted several times that the amount is one of the lowest for a superintendent in Nassau County, as the average is about $250,000.
The highest salaried superintendent in Nassau County is in Syosset. The 2010-2011 salary for Syosset School District Superintendent Carole Hankin is $386,868. She’s been superintendent for the last 21 years.
After hearing about the possibility that the state Legislature might enact the salary cap soon, the Mineola school board opted to sign a new contract even though Dr. Nagler still has a year left on his current agreement rather than wait and take a chance that the bill would be passed. It was said that a contract signed ahead of the passage of such a cap would not be subject to the restriction.
The new contract would run from June 13, 2011 to June 12, 2016, has no raises in salary following the first 2 years and Dr. Nagler would increase his health care contributions from 15 to 20 percent.
The contract’s starting salary is equal to the 4 percent increase Nagler would have at the end of July, pushing his pay to $210,900 for the first three years. Raises of 2 percent would also be given in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school year, with a lump sum of $20,000 in the final year in addition to the 2 percent. The contract, which numbers aren’t final, appears back-loaded, which could ensure Nagler will stay on as superintendent for the duration of the agreement.
“We had been hearing for sometime about the cap,” Board VP Christine Napolitano said. “Then it sort of died. In the last couple of weeks, the chatter started up a lot again, certainly after the Syosset salary hit the newspapers.”
Napolitano said legal council agreed with the board’s decision of getting the superintendent contract issue off the ground. Rumors surfaced that if the legislation were put through last week or this week, it would not start next year, but start immediately from the introduction of the legislation.
The details were discussed on June 9, according to Napolitano. “That was the other thing that made us act fast,” she said. “We have teachers that make the salary that Mike [Nagler] will make.”
After all the bond votes, reconfigurations and discussions that have strained the district, Napolitano said the last thing the district wanted to do was deal with the haywire of not having a new contract in place if a cap was put forth by the state.
“I think because of the tremendous upheaval the district went through, I was not willing to take a chance that something like that could happen, then all of a sudden everything changes,” she said.
The board has hired an attorney to negotiate with the other bargaining units, asking the superintendent not to act as head negotiator during the talks. Dr. Nagler said that he would not be involved in the talks until much later in the process.