School administrator could earn $20k to train replacement

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Former interim assistant superintendent for finance and operations at a board meeting earlier this year.

The Riverhead School District could have to pay an additional $20,000 to its former finance head while he’s brought back in this year to train his replacement, according to a school board meeting agenda and News-Review calculations.

The board was scheduled to vote at Wednesday night’s meeting on the proposed appointment of Joseph Singleton, who was hired in December as interim assistant superintendent for finance and operations, to a financial adviser position.

If approved, Mr. Singleton would be authorized to work 25 days between July 7 and December 30 for “the purpose of transition with the new superintendent of finance and operations and preparation of data for the proposed bond issue,” the agenda reads. District officials are considering putting an estimated $75 million bond for infrastructure upgrades up to public vote this fall.

Mr. Singleton, who retired from Suffolk BOCES in 1995, has so far this year earned a per diem rate of $800. In addition to his current role at Riverhead schools, Mr. Singleton collected an annual pension of $143,987 in 2010, according to, a website that posts the salaries and pensions of all public employees in the state.

Under the proposed resolution, the district would have to pay Mr. Singleton a daily rate at the same time his replacement, Sam Schneider, gets paid, though district officials could not immediately confirm whether Mr. Singleton would still be making $800 a day.

Mr. Schneider, who took over the position July 1, will earn an annual salary of $162,000, school officials said.

Mr. Singleton’s predecessor, Michael Ivanoff, who was terminated in January, earned an annual salary of $178,941 in that role.

If Mr. Singleton worked the maximum 25 days at the same per diem rate he had earned this year, he would receive $20,000 for his services.

District superintendent Nancy Carney said Mr. Singleton’s expertise is needed for helping to navigate the bond proposal.
“We want to give all homeowners access to the impact of the bond on their taxes for their particular home,” she said, meaning any resident can call Mr. Singleton’s office for an estimate of how the bond proposal will affect their property taxes. “In addition, he will work with Mr. Schneider to provide for a smooth transition with our business office,” she said.

Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) — who recently criticized the neighboring Shoreham-Wading River school board for a measure that will allow an incoming superintendent to collect an additional $8,750 to start training before his contract kicks in — told the News-Review he did not think Riverhead’s somewhat similar move “makes good fiscal sense.”

“Far too often we’re seeing the use of very high-salaried per diem employees who are routinely collecting pensions from high-paying jobs,” Mr. Losquadro said regarding Mr. Singleton’s proposed appointment.

He instead suggested the incoming administrator train on his or her own time before the predecessor steps down as a way to save the district money. “It seems to me that such a person should [already] have the expertise to assist the board in the preparation and presentation of any financial documents necessary,” Mr. Losquadro said.

In other school board news, new member Kim Ligon as well as incumbent president Ann Cotten-Degrasse and vice president Greg Meyer were scheduled to be sworn in to three-year terms Wednesday night. Ms. Ligon will fill the seat vacated by longtime board member Kathy Berezny, who decided not to seek re-election this year. Ms. Cotten-Degrasse and Mr. Meyer were elected to their second terms in May.

Ms. Cotten-Degrasse declined to comment on the board’s plans to fill the seat vacated by former member Angela DeVito, who unexpectedly tendered her resignation during a meeting last month.

Ms. DeVito’s term will expire June 30, 2012.

“We will discuss it in executive session [Wednesday],” Ms. Cotton-Degrasse said.

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