Measure increasing salary cap for N.J. school chiefs advances

New Jersey Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz says a salary cap that took effect in 2011 was intended to save money but has kept school districts from getting the best people. (AP photo/ Mel Evans)

New Jersey Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz says a salary cap that took effect in 2011 was intended to save money but has kept school districts from getting the best people. (AP photo/ Mel Evans)

A New Jersey Senate committee has advanced legislation that would prohibit the state Department of Education from limiting what a school district can pay its superintendent.

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz said Monday the salary cap that took effect in 2011 was intended to save money, but has instead kept school districts from getting the best people.

“I think it’s the responsibility of the district, if they have funding in their budget, to make their decision on hiring someone who is capable and that won’t necessarily at some point make less than perhaps a sitting principal,” said Ruiz, D-Essex.

Jonathan Pushman with the New Jersey School Boards Association said the limit is a misguided and ill-conceived public policy and should be eliminated.

“It’s time that we return control over personnel decisions back to where it belongs, and that’s in the hands of duly elected local school board members,” he said.

Sen. Mike Doherty said superintendents who want to make more money should consider getting a job in the private sector.

“We’re talking about folks making five times as much as the average person in New Jersey,” said Doherty, R-Somerset. “That’s not enough money?”

The Christie administration favors increasing the maximum limit of $175,000 that school chiefs can be paid.

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