The big issue facing KLSD is not the extent to which the leaders of the professional associations who represent our staff have lost confidence in our superintendent. The big issue is the extent to which staff compensation packages have gotten so far from those of comparable districts in our area. Last year, the district’s community-based Finance Committee showed, in detail, that the KLSD per-pupil cost is $1,752 higher than the average among five other high-performing districts such as Byram Hills, Chappaqua and Scarsdale. Almost 90% of that difference, about $1,577 per pupil, is for instruction and benefits. Issues regarding district-staff relations should be dealt with appropriately and swiftly.
But the parade of horribles that some have attributed to the superintendent’s alleged personality shortcomings pale in comparison to the damage that will be done to our schools and students if we do not get our compensation packages under control and at least partially in line with the compensation packages offered by our peers. To put this in Finance Committee terms, if we reduce per-pupil spending to, say, Chappaqua levels, our spending would be reduced by $8.2 million, or about 7% of our budget. Even half of that reduction would get us past our structural deficit and spare us job losses, curtailed programs, and undesirably large class sizes. But the only way we will get there is if our staff agrees to modify the compensation line item. Without such modification, in a tax cap environment, the consequences will be ugly.
Former School Board President