Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow today chastised state Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Lucille Davy for her failure to exercise her authority and oversight in a dispute earlier this year involving a $600,000 retirement deal for Hoboken’s former Superintendent of Schools.
“Commissioner Davy’s refusal to void yet another outrageous superintendent retirement package is yet more proof she is an ineffective department head who is failing to serve the public’s interest,” said Karrow, R-Warren and Hunterdon. “As a result of her incompetence, our good citizens will once again see their hard-earned tax dollars flutter away.”
The Star Ledger reported today that in January, Davy denied a request by the Hoboken Board of Education to void a consulting fee portion of a retirement deal for Hoboken Superintendent Patrick Gagliardi who retired in June 2007. Gagliardi received $495,000 for unused sick and vacation days along with a promise to be paid $996 per day as a consulting administrator for up to 100 days. These perks are in addition to his $128,400 per year pension.
Revelation of the nearly $600,000 Hoboken deal comes on the heels of reports that the Keansburg Superintendent of Schools, Barbara Trzeszkowski, is retiring next month with a $740,000 severance package.
Karrow pointed out that the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) released a report two and a half years ago calling into question school superintendent excessive contracts and benefit packages. The SCI is a non-partisan appointed agency.
“For the last two and a half years, both Governor Corzine and Commissioner Davy sat on the SCI report and did absolutely nothing about these obscene superintendent salaries and benefit packages,” exclaimed Karrow. “This information was there in black and white. They had two and a half years to pull the plug on these highly excessive contracts, but they chose to ignore them. They have an awful lot of explaining to do.”
Karrow noted the hypocrisy of Davy going to court now to oppose portions of Trzeszkowski’s deal while refusing to intercede in Gagliardi’s, saying it was only public pressure that forced Davy to pursue legal action against Trzeszkowski. Both Keansburg and Hoboken are Abbott School Districts.
“It’s plain to see the only reason Commissioner Davy is attempting to block Trzeszkowski’s package now is because of the public’s outrage when they learned about this blatant waste of taxpayer money,” stated Karrow. “Why didn’t she exercise her authority in January when the Hoboken Board of Education asked for her help? That’s another answer she owes to the public and the Legislature.”
Karrow called the overall lack of oversight in Abbott School Districts alarming. Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that officials from the Camden school district, which has been run by the state since 2002, requested $19.5 million more in state aid in the coming fiscal year in addition to its $279.5 million allocation, a 2 percent increase from the previous year. Despite the increase in state aid, school officials said its $340 million budget – pared down from $355 million – may still result in program and staff cuts.
“The state keeps pouring billions of state funds into these Abbott districts where the waste and mismanagement of taxpayer funds is rampant and yet, it’s never enough for them,’ said an exasperated Karrow. “And instead of launching investigations, holding officials accountable and recouping the wasted monies, Governor Corzine rewards them with additional money. Is it any wonder we can’t balance our state budget year after year?”
Last month, Karrow called for Davy’s resignation for her refusal to recover $83 million in questionable spending in Abbott School Districts.
Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow/908-782-5127
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