Sup Salary Caps Lead to Resignations & Retirements?

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Nearly a year after Gov. Chris Christie’s superintendent salary caps were put in place chief school administrators have retired or resigned at a much higher rate than previously.

According to a report in PolitickerNJ as compiled by the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) 28.9 percent of the state’s 589 school districts or 170 districts had their superintendents leave during the last school year. According to NJSBA the number constituted the highest in the 10 years it has compiled data on turnover rates of chief school administrators.

While the cause of the turnover could not be attributed solely to the salary caps the inference can be made. In the survey the major reasons superintendents cited for leaving were because they left for another district or school districts were merged.

The Caps

The Governor proposed the caps in late 2010 (Governor Releases Salary Caps for Supers Regulations November 1 November 1 2010). They became operational in early 2011 despite ongoing litigation. The pay caps link the size of a school district to the salary of a superintendent as follows:

Student Enrollment of Districts(s) / Maximum

· 0-250 / $125000

· 251 – 750 / $135000

· 751 – 1500 / $145000

· 1501 – 3000 / $155000

· 3001 – 6500 / $165000

· 6501 – 10000 / $175000*

The Commissioner on a per case basis may approve a waiver of the maximum salary amount for districts with a total enrollment of 10000 or more. Superintendents can earn $10000 more for each additional district they supervise and they can receive an additional stipend of $2500 if their district includes a high school.

School boards are not permitted to increase a superintendent's base pay (for example with longevity increases) beyond the salary caps. Additionally no superintendent contract that includes a compensation package above the salary caps could be extended; at its expiration the new compensation package of the superintendent would need to conform to this new policy.

Comparing superintendents’ rising salaries to the escalation of contracts for free agent athletes Christie said the caps were needed as an outside check on costs that districts could not seem to control on their own when he initially made his announcement regarding the caps.

Ongoing Litigation

The New Jersey Association of School Administrators is currently in litigation regarding the new caps. That litigation argues that the Governor lacked the authority to establish the regulations creating the caps under the Accountability Regulations and definitely lacked the authority to preclude negotiation between the board and their superintendent prior to the effective date of the new caps.

Source: PolitickerNJ; New Jersey School Boards Association