South Country hiring of departing president draws fire

The South Country school board and exiting president Greg Miglino created a $61,200 patronage job for Miglino to slide into after he steps down next month, according to residents who blasted him and the board at its meeting last night.

Miglino - a school board member for four years and board president for three - flatly denied the challenges, saying the board hired him to shepherd an ongoing school construction project.

But several residents and one school board member said last night and leading up to the meeting that Miglino's new position as building services administrator for the district is the result of collusion between Miglino and the school board.

Residents noted the position had been vacant for about three years when the board voted May 12 to hire Miglino - less than two months before he is scheduled to step down as school board president.

Joanne Long Merrill of East Patchogue called the appointment "a joke" and called on the board to abolish Miglino's new position. "We're not idiots - don't treat us like that," she said.

Miglino's low score on a required civil service test intensified community anger, said board member Lisa Grossman. Miglino tied for the lowest score out of 19 test-takers, county records state. The district would normally be required to hire the top scorer.

But in April, at Miglino's urging, the board adopted a policy that allows it to favor job candidates who live in the district, board members said.

Miglino, the only local candidate for the job, assumes his new title on July 1, the day after his term as a school board member expires.

"There are so many other things that can be bought with this money," said former board member Antoinette Huffine of Bellport. "If there really is a need for this position, [Miglino is] too close to it. It smells."

Miglino said he will serve as "point person" for an ongoing $111-million school bond project. He said he will also oversee custodial services, maintenance and security.

Miglino said he "understands the concerns" about his hire, but does not believe it was unethical. He added that he will save the district money by working part time.

Miglino's hire has polarized the nine-member school board, which voted 5-2, with two abstentions, to hire him. Miglino abstained from the vote.

Grossman said the district, which includes the Bellport and East Patchogue area, should adopt a policy that board members must wait at least a year before the district can hire them for a job.

"There would be a . . . grace period so you couldn't profit from your knowledge," she said. "Like Miglino, he's worked for several years to create a position for himself."

But Lee Snead, who lost his board seat in last week's elections, said Miglino was hired for his "intimate knowledge" of the construction project.



May 27, 2010

South Country district job move looks bad

Honestly, we needed no further evidence that our schools are too often incapable of running tight, fiscally responsible ships. But two Bethpage school district employees were arrested this week for allegedly using district money to ship items they had auctioned through eBay. And the board at the South Country Central School District has just made a hiring move that doesn't pass the smell test.

The beneficiary of the South Country maneuver is the soon-to-be-former board president, Gregory C. Miglino Jr. His term expires on June 30. The next day, he joins the district's staff as a building services administrator. Though Miglino did abstain from the vote that actually gave him the job, he appears to have been involved in the process before that.

For example, Miglino proposed and the board passed a policy giving a hiring preference to local residents, though civil service rules already allow for that. His civil service test scores were poor, so the preference apparently came in handy.

There's a question whether the job, vacant for several years, is necessary, or whether existing administrators could handle its duties. Though this looks like exactly the kind of spending that school districts ought to avoid, the board has taken care of one of its own - not the taxpayers.

To ease the property tax burden, boards must rise above just this sort of squalid nest-feathering, do a better job in collective bargaining with their unions, and watch the public purse more closely.


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