On September 16, the Joint Committee of the Public Schools focused its attention on the issue of the Christie Administration’s 2011 imposition of the controversial superintendents’ salary cap. This enrollment-based salary cap, enacted through a fast-tracked regulatory process, placed a ceiling on superintendent pay linking the top compensation level in districts (with less than 10,00 students) to the $175,00 salary rate received by New Jersey’s Governor. The regulations establishing this cap are due to sunset in 2016. NJPSA testified with other education stakeholders.
Assemblyman David Wolfe, (R-10), initiated the committee discussion based upon his concern that New Jersey is losing top educational leadership talent to neighboring states. The Committee heard from representatives of invited organizations including NJPSA, the NJ Association of School Administrators, and the NJ School Boards Association. NJPSA Director of Government Relations Debra Bradley presented the impact of the salary cap on the work of principals and supervisors with a focus on the negative impact of the high superintendent mobility rates and the over-reliance by boards on the hiring of interim superintendents on school/district leadership (NJPSA testimony).
The salary cap, which has been in effect since 2010, was addressed legislatively back in the spring when the Senate Education Committee took testimony on a bill that would eliminate the cap (Senate Ed Committee Approves Bill Eliminating Superintendent Cap, Also Approves Several Health & Safety Measures, June 12, 2014). NJPSA testified in support of S-1987 (Ruiz) which would prohibit the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) from regulating the maximum salary amount a school district may pay its superintendent of schools.
The Joint Committee on the Public Schools provides ongoing study of the system of free public schools; it's financing, administration and operations. It also makes recommendations for legislative action. It was established in 1975 and is comprised of 14 members of the Legislature. Appointments are made by the Senate President and Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly. The Members select leadership at the reorganization meeting, every 2 years. A subcommittee structure has allowed this committee to be involved in major legislative policies and proposals. Hence their decision to take up this controversial subject.