Sandra Simpson, the chief operating officer of Southern Westchester BOCES, has moxie.
She helped orchestrate the removal of her predecessor, District Superintendent Bob Monson, over his residence in a Stamford condominium complex. When she was named chief operating officer in 2010, she became the regional education agency’s executive officer and now pulls down a salary that’s 46 percent over the state-mandated salary cap for a district superintendent.
She has also presented budgets to the agency’s 32 component districts that include the salary for the district superintendent, even though the Southern Westchester BOCES board has no intention of filling the position.
In tomorrow’s Tax Watch column, I explore Simpson’s budgetary sleight-of-hand and show how southern Westchester taxpayers get taken for $356,000.
The column also looks at the job description for the district superintendent that’s detailed in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 budget books.
It states: “In addition to serving as the executive officer of the SWBOCES, the District Superintendent serves in an advisory capacity for all school districts in Southern Westchester and serves upon request as a consultant in the recruitment, screening, and evaluation of candidates for the position of Superintendent of Schools. In addition, the District Superintendent facilitates communications between districts and the State Education Department, interprets and clarifies the Commissioner’s Regulations and New York State Education Law, supports SED initiatives within the region and serves as a consultant with the Boards of Education on a variety of educational issues, including new learning standards, assessments and graduation requirements; school boundaries; and management and planning.”
The job description for the district superintendent sounds remarkably similar to what Simpson does. In fact, two Westchester school chiefs – White Plains Superintendent Chris Clouet and Greenburgh Superintendent Ron Ross – have said that Southern Westchester BOCES doesn’t need to hire a district superintendent because Sandy Simpson is already doing the job.
Though Jim Langlois, the district superintendent of Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES serves as the agency’s “interim district superintendent,” Simpson acts as the district’s executive officer. She led superintendent searches in Port Chester, Hastings-on-Hudson, and Ardsley. She travels to state Education Commissioner John King’s monthly meetings in Albany to learn the latest in state policy, which she then shares with local superintendents. She supports SED initiatives involved with state assessments and teacher evaluations. Her agency is currently conducting workshops on the Common Core standards.
On Monday, I made a Freedom of Information request to the district, asking for a copy of the job description for the chief operating officer. Steve Tibbetts, the agency’s records access officer, told me it could take up to 20 days to provide that document. By Friday, I had not received it.
Photo: Sandra Simpson, by the entrance of SWBOCES headquarters in Rye Brook. Photo/David McKay Wilson