Governor Calls for Caps on Superintendent Pay

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Gov. Chris Christie announced plans July 15 to cap superintendents’ pay based upon how many students they serve with separate bonuses built in tied to student achievement.

The proposal would likely mean salary cuts for 366 superintendents at the end of their current contracts saving school districts $9.8 million according to the Governor. In addition the Commissioner of Education Bret Schundler also claimed that the new rules would encourage districts to share superintendents and administrative teams reducing the overlap in those positions and producing more savings.

Superintendents and education advocates predicted quality leaders would rush for the exits and it would be difficult to attract replacements. But Christie said the potential for merit pay – up to 15 percent above the overall salary – would reward the best educators while stopping the competition between districts that hurts taxpayers.

“People are bouncing around like free agents in baseball and getting higher and higher salaries as they go” Christie said at a news conference at a Spotswood elementary school. “What we’re trying to do here is to shift the paradigm.”

Maximum pay for superintendents would be pegged to enrollment from $120000 for the smallest districts up to $175000 for districts with between 3000 and 10000 students. The 16 largest districts do not have an upper limit but Schundler said he expects pay to drop there too as the Department of Education sets criteria tailored to their needs.
The salary limits would also apply to nontenured assistant superintendents and business administrators at the start of their next contract while those who are tenured and earning higher than the scale would see their pay frozen Schundler said. Interim superintendents also would be covered by the rules he said.

According to the Governor the proposal does not require legislative approval and would be enforced by county executive superintendents who are appointed by the governor. It would not affect principals who like teachers are covered by collective bargaining agreements Schundler said.

The salary limits would not include other forms of compensation such as accumulated sick and vacation time which had already been curtailed in 2007 Schundler said.

Proposed pay limits for school administrators

School enrollment / maximum pay

  • up to 250 / $120000
  • 251 – 750 / $135000
  • 751 – 1500 / $150000
  • 1501 – 3000 / $165000
  • 3001 – 10000 / $175000
  • More than 10000 / to be determined by the Department of Education