OCS Supervisor to take $10,000 pay cut

By Jay Braman Jr.
Onteora School District Superintendent Phyllis McGill was expected to be granted an unusual wish this week.
A cut in her salary.

The superintendent, on the job in the district for just over a year, is being offered a contract extension through 2016. Under her existing contract, which runs through 2014, McGill is paid $160,000 annually. But with times being tough, McGill volunteered to cut her own pay.

The school district, like most in New York State, is trying to make ends meet as taxpayers have less and less to take from their pockets to support public education. On top of that, the state has placed a two-percent cap on annual budget increases.

With school districts accustomed to spending hikes that were routinely three times that amount, everyone knew that something had to give.

While her pay cut will certainly not solve all of the district’s money troubles, McGill said she would rather see the $10,000 go toward something that helps students.

At press time, the school board was expected to agree to McGill’s new contract on Tuesday, May 1.
The district’s 2012-’13 proposed budget, though not set in stone unless voters okay it at the polls on May 15, calls for a zero-percent tax increase.

Total spending under the plan drops by almost two percent. The current school budget came in last May at $50,541,121. The proposed plan drops spending down to $49,686,922.

The budget reflects a major change in the district brought on due to cost cutting efforts. Earlier this year the school board adopted a new configuration for the district that removes grades four, five and six from the Phoenicia Elementary School and sends them to the Bennet Elementary School in Boiceville.

Following strong criticism that they should have closed the Phoenicia School altogether, two district trustees up for reelection this month are facing challenge.

On the ballot will be Rebecca Balzac of Shokan and Cybele Nielsen of Glenford. Both are running against incumbents Tony Fletcher of Mount Tremper and Laurie Osmond of Willow.
All four are running at large. The two top vote getters will serve three-year terms.