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Top pay in schools here and across NYS

Over the weekend, we reported that in Erie and Niagara counties, 35 public school employees were each paid more than $150,000 last year. Here's the complete list.

Administrators in the Williamsville School District are the best-paid in the region. Superintendent Howard S. Smith's earnings ($227,850) for the first time surpassed those of Buffalo Superintendent James A. Williams' ($223,372), whose district is about three times bigger, based on student enrollment. And three assistant superintendents in Williamsville each earned $151,620. Howard Smith

Our story was based on data released last week by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a project of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. The Center collects and posts public payrolls from school districts and local governments across the state at Last week, they posted 2009-10 payrolls from schools across New York.

Smith (pictured at right) told me, "I have made it my practice not to talk about my own salary with the media." He did, however, note: "There are a number of superintendents in Monroe County paid more than me."

That's true, more or less -- to be exact, two superintendents in Monroe County made more than Smith last year.

Rochester Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, whose district is about the same size as Buffalo, made $248,520, and the superintendent in Pittsford, a Rochester suburb, made $246,242.

But Smith raises a good point. Whenever statewide data is released, each media outlet focuses on the chunk of the data that pertains to its readers (or viewers or listeners). It's interesting, though, to take a look at what's going on elsewhere in the state.

Rochester's WXXI reported that more than 300 employees in the Rochester School District made more than $100,000 -- compared to 67 in Buffalo.

The highest salaries, though, were clearly on Long Island.

Former Commack Superintendent James Feltman made more than anyone else in the state, raking in $657,970, reports the Commack Patch. That included unused sick time and vacation days he had accrued over 24 years in the district.

His district defends his compensation, saying he's well-respected statewide and that strategies he employed over the years saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars, reports

 - Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |