School board approves 5-year deal with superintendent

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Rome school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake will receive one pay raise over the next five years as part of a new five-year employment agreement approved by the Board of Education.

Blake’s current base salary of $168,000 will increase to $174,000 in the third year of the agreement with no other change in the fourth and fifth years, board President Paul Fitzpatrick said after the board voted 7-1 Tuesday night to approve it.

Voting “no” was board clerk Paul Hagerty, who said before the vote it was primarily because he disagrees with a five-year term for the extension. He would not elaborate after the meeting.

The agreement, dated April 23 this year through April 22, 2024, supersedes Blake’s prior three-year agreement which would have been through June 30 this year. Blake became district superintendent in July 2016.

Blake expressed thanks to the board after the new agreement was approved, adding “I appreciate it.”

Blake said after the meeting that he was pleased with the agreement. He commented “I’m glad the board feels we’re doing enough good things to allow me to continue.”

When asked about his pay levels, Blake said he had requested that his new agreement include one raise during the five years. He noted that while some people still say he is overpaid, the superintendents of several smaller school districts make more money than him.

Compared to his current salary range, among some of the other superintendents of smaller districts in Oneida County who are paid more are in New Hartford, Westmoreland, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill and Whitesboro, according to seethroughny.net.

“People seem to think it’s all about money....It’s not,” Blake commented. He previously had requested that his salary for the 2017-18 school year not change from his 2016-17 amount, before the board approved a $6,000 raise last October that increased his salary to $168,000 for the current 2018-19 year.

Among other changes in the new agreement, Fitzpatrick said Blake will receive an ongoing $500 monthly stipend for travel expenses instead of itemizing the expenses.

Financially it would be “a wash,” while providing significantly less paperwork and processing, Fitzpatrick remarked. Blake said the current range for the monthly expenses is about $350-$700.

In another change, Blake’s health-care coverage will involve less expense for the school district while he will be paying more money for it, Fitzpatrick said.

Blake, who had not previously been a school superintendent before succeeding Jeffrey P. Simons in the Rome position, was graded as “effective” by the board in its evaluation of his performance for the 2017-18 year that ended last June. It was the second-highest among four rating levels in the evaluation, which is conducted annually.

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