Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. was named superintendent of the new Ilion-Mohawk school district during a board meeting Thursday at Ilion High School.
Tangorra, the current Ilion Central School superintendent, has a five-year contract with the new district beginning July1, with a starting annual salary of $151,923. Herkimer BOCES Superintendent Mark Vivacqua will serve as acting superintendent until Tangorra's contract begins, according to a news release from Herkimer County BOCES.
The board voted unanimously to approve the appointment.
Board President Steve Coupe said Tangorra had agreed to the appointment at “basically the same salary” and he was receiving as Ilion's superintendent. “It made it very easy for us to say yes,” he said.
“I'm very excited,” Tangorra said after the meeting. “This is a huge opportunity for the children and taxpayers of these two districts.”
He said he looks forward to working with the board and staff “to see what kind of new district we can make.”
“It's much greater than just taking the best of Ilion and Mohawk and we will grab the best of both districts,” he said, “but if that's all we do then we'll have squandered this opportunity.”
“It isn't a pot of gold,” Tangorra said of the incentive aid the new district will receive. It will allow the district to hang onto existing programs and restore some that have been cut. “Then we can think about what we can do both instructionally and non-instructionally to best prepare our students for college and careers in the 21st century.”
Tangorra said his first step will be to put together his administrative team. Once that is organized, work on staffing can begin.
The board also voted to adopt a $44,125,000 proposed budget for 2013 - 2014. The plan will go before district voters May 21.
Business Manager Ken Long presented the budget at a meeting earlier in the month. He said he combined the budgets from the two school districts and, in accordance with the information presented in the merger study that stated Mohawk's taxes would be lowered to Ilion's level, he added a tax levy increase at the two percent cap for Ilion while reducing Mohawk's levy by $705,000. The net result is a reduction of $611,364 in the total tax levy.
“You are not bound by line items,” Long told the board. “You're bound by some, but not all. Retirement and health - you have to make those payments.”
Right now the priority is to adopt a total budget to put before the voters at an amount the board can work with.
“Is there money for discretionary items,” asked board member Matthew Shedd.
Long said there would probably be money available, but right now he doesn't know what the requests might be. Depending on the amount, he said, “I may say yes. I may say it will be very difficult.”
Page 2 of 2 - “I know this seems quick and it is,” said Vivacqua. “There's not a lot of detail in this budget.” He said the alternative would have been to meet every week and pore over the figures and perhaps make decisions the board was not yet ready to make. “You have from the study the tax on true and we know what the state aid will be. There's no advantage to cutting expenses below that.” He added it will be the responsibility of the board “to hold the administrators' feet to the fire” in terms of programs offered and the using the incentive aid wisely and saving as much as possible.
Cathy Eysaman, who was among those who attended the meeting in the large group instruction room, wanted to know if school resource officers are included in the budget.
There is no specific position, Vivacqua said, but it could be added if the board wishes to do so.
Tangorra said after the meeting he feels good about the proposed budget. “This is the first time in my career as a superintendent, and I'm in my 11th year, that I haven't had to cut the budget.”
The board heard reports on the transition teams from Mohawk interim Superintendent Gene Beirne and from Tangorra. The school identity team plans to narrow its field of choices and ask students to vote.
The board also approved ethics and school board operations policies for the district.