A new proposal from the Christie administration is aimed at ending the flight of New Jersey school superintendents to other states for a bigger salary.
A measure enacted in 2011 limits superintendents’ pay to the $175,000 salary earned by the governor. The proposed regulations would raise the cap to $191,500, as well as allowing for stipends and 2 percent annual merit raises.
That would satisfy superintendents’ concerns, according to Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.
“I think it’s on the path to righting the wrong that was done five years ago,” he said. “We’ve had individuals who have been able to keep pace with inflation, and this recognizes that. I think it will stem the outflow of superintendents to early retirement and out of district.”
The higher limits wouldn’t take effect until the next school year.
“It gives districts time to reflect on where they are, to look at their budgets, to determine whether they want to make any changes, and I think that’s an important point,” Bozza said. “Because there’s a higher ceiling that’s allowed doesn’t mean it will naturally occur. This has to be then a conversation between the superintendent and the school board as to what’s appropriate in their contract.”
Taxpayers should be assured, Bozza added, that controls on compensation will continue because every superintendent’s contract must be reviewed by the state before it takes effect.
“There might be additional changes in the future because of the legislative support to eliminate the caps completely over time,” he said. “So I think that’s something that we should do to … return the control of compensation to the local school boards so that they can determine in their area of the state what really is compensation worthwhile for their community.”