Thursday, February 10, 2011

Merge Delaware, Otsego Counties? Now That We Have Your Attention...

Of course, it’s easy to quibble about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s – or any governor’s – budget message, delivered Feb. 1.
A $96 billion budget, even one cut by $10 billion, funds so many jobs, schools and agencies with such varied impact that someone’s ox is bound to be gored.
In this space, we’ve consistently questioned how it makes sense to cut expenditures in the middle of a recession, but it seems we’re not all Keynesians any more.
Likewise, when you read that Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein paid himself a $12.6 million stock bonus for 2010, a 40 percent raise over the year before, you have to ask, Why not raise taxes on Wall Street’s top earners?  Why not, Andrew?
They got us into this mess, and were the first to get out; let’s share a teeny bit of the pain.
That said, there are benefits to periodic dips – although not as long, widespread and extreme as this one – in that they tend to flush weaker players out of the body economic, leaving survivors strengthened when things rebound.
And having to get by with less can start people asking, Is there a better way?
Mayors Booan and Miller have been talking about consolidating services, but what about schools?  In the ONC BOCES, only the Stamford, Jefferson and South Kortright districts are in conversations about consolidation. 
One of Cuomo’s whipping boys is superintendent salaries.   While the governor makes $179,000, the Orange County BOCES superintendent makes $400,000; the Syosset schools superintendent, $386,868.
“I applied for that job,” the New York Times had Cuomo kidding about the Syosset slot.  When he got turned down, he said, he ran for governor.
No doubt we would be surprised to learn what superintendents are making in these parts.  Of more concern:  Do we have more administration than we need?
In the old days – here we go – supervising principal was top job in local districts.  Now there’s a superintendent, a principal or two, a business manager.
Could these functions be shared?  Could they be shared among districts?  One superintendent, say, for Laurens and Morris?
The point is not to mount a witch-hunt.  Superintendents and principals are some of the most revered members of our communities.
The question is, Can we do the same, in schools, in town governments, in perhaps merging Otsego and Delaware counties into one entity? (They used to be.)
Now, fellow Otsegians and Delawarians, is time.

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