N.J. considers eliminating cap on superintendent pay

School concept. Back to school, School classroom with empty school chairs and tables, classroom without students, School supplies on blackboard, School of Schoolchild and student education.

Despite job fairs and ads in other cities, Newark still has a teacher shortfall, and some students are being taught by substitutes year round. (StudioDin/BigStock)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering eliminating a statewide cap on the salaries of superintendents, which would allow school districts to set higher pay and attract new applicants.

Former Gov. Chris Christie instituted the cap in 2011 to lower school district budgets and help drive down property taxes, but some people viewed the cap as a political stunt that did not achieve its stated goal.

“Maybe at the time it was the right thing to do to save taxpayers money,” said Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, R-Monmounth, “but in the current climate we need to do something different, and this is it.”

On Monday, the Assembly Education Committee unanimously passed legislation to remove the cap. The state Senate approved an identical bill in February.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex, who sponsored the bill, said the cap has hurt school districts across the state, who have had trouble attracting or retaining school leaders.

“It’s been a huge problem in my area. We have had a revolving door of interim superintendents,” Jasey said.

A Rutgers University study published last year, which analyzed years of New Jersey school district budget data, found no evidence that the salary cap saved schools money.

The study did find that the salary limit increased the likelihood that superintendents would leave their jobs and find work elsewhere.

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