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At least one superintendent in Genesee County may see a significant pay cut, under a new proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The governor yesterday announced a plan to cap all superintendent salaries outside New York City, based on enrollment. For the smallest rural districts, the cap would be $125,000 a year.

By enrollment, most superintendents in Genesee County would be capped at $145,000 a year. The only superintendent whose salary would currently see a cut is Pembroke’s Gary Mix - the highest paid local superintendent at $232,307. He would see a nearly $90,000 dollar pay cut.

Gary Mix believes the governor’s move is not financially-motivated – but strictly political.

"I understand that the governor is politically ambitious," says Mix. "He's picked a group of people - the 700 superintendents in New York - that in many communities, particularly in small communities, they can often be among the more highly-compensated people in the community."

Mix says he grew up the oldest of eight children. His father was a postal worker who also took many odd jobs to support his large family.

So, "I understand the feelings about other people's compensation and benefits," says Mix. "(But) education is crucial, it's important. I hope we truly value it."

Mix says there's a certain irony whenever the public comes out against pay in the educational system. While many call for paychecks to be "performance-based," Mix believes Pembroke Central's performance has been outstanding. He points to several awards, including a National Blue Ribbon for Excellence and a Newsweek National Top High Schools designation.

Mix accused Governor Cuomo of trying to keep up with popular New Jersey governor, Republican Chris Christie, who is making national headlines for attempting massive cuts to the public sector. Mix also sees the superintendents being made a sort of scapegoat for New York's fiscal woes - while, he points out, "it's the legislature that set up the rules in the first place, that we all have to live by."

On top of all this, Mix says a superintendent salary cap could hurt Pembroke Central’s future - particularly when the district must one day replace him.

"Do I believe that having a cap on the superintendent's salary would restrict the pool of applicants?" said Mix. "I believe that, yes I do."

Under law, Cuomo himself can make no more than $179,000 dollars a year. In the first days of his term, the governor levied himself a five-percent pay cut. Cuomo has also proposed $1.5-billion in cuts to school districts in this year's state budget.
Below is a summary of all schools and superintendents which draw students from Genesee County, their salaries, and the governor's proposed cap in that district.

Cuomo's Proposed Caps vs. Current Superintendent Salaries

District Enrollment* Superintendent 2010 Salary** Proposed Salary Cap
Alexander 896 Kathleen Maerten $117,875 $145,000
Attica 1604 Bryce Thompson $125,035 $155,000
Batavia 2353 Margaret Puzio $134,000 $145,000
Byron-Bergen 1070 Scott Martzloff $134,000 $145,000
Elba 494 Jerome Piwko $81,120 $135,000
LeRoy 1299 Kimberly Cox $139,000***   $145,000
Oakfield-Alabama 927 Christopher Todd $127,500 $145,000
Pavilion 811 Kenneth Ellison $121,278 $145,000
Pembroke 1050 Gary Mix $232,307 $145,000

*Figures from '09-'10 NYSED Schools Accountability & Overview Reports
**Figures from SeeThroughNY
***Salary from LCSD '10-'11 Budget, originally budgeted for former Superintendent Cindy Herzog

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