Gov. Chris Christie’s cap on superintendent salaries -- which basically maxed out their top pay at $175,000, the same as the governor's annual take-home -- is approaching the three-year mark. While the cap did lead to big cuts in what many New Jersey school districts pay their supers, there remain some outliers who are earning better than top dollar -- either because their contracts were inked before the caps were enacted or because they're exempt from the limits.
This list of the 10 highest salaries paid to school superintendents in 2012-13 is based on data released this month by the state Department of Education. Salaries do not include bonuses or other non-salary compensation. Superintendents may also be eligible for up to 15 percent bonuses.
County vocational schools were among the few categories not covered by the caps, along with charter schools and special-services districts. Lobosco also serves as superintendent of the Passaic County Educational Services Commission.
Draeger retired from the district last year, moving back to Virginia. He was part of an exodus of veteran superintendents who left after the caps were imposed, citing salary limits as at least one factor in their decisions to move on.
Dandorph has been in the Hudson County district for 48 years and is covered by a contract enacted before the cap. If he chooses to stay once the contract expires, his salary would be cut back to $177,500, the limit for a district of that size and configuration.
The county special-education districts also do not fall under Christie’s caps, and Finkelstein leads one of the largest of them. The district comprises seven schools and also runs programs in Middlesex County districts.
Union City is one of 16 districts exempt from the caps because enrollment exceeds 10,000 students. Nevertheless, the super's pay must be approved by the state Department of Education.
Birnbaum has worked in North Plainfield schools for more than 40 years; her 2009 contract expires in 2014. If she stays, her base pay would drop to $167,500, the cap for a district this size.
South Hackensack is one of the state’s smaller districts, comprising a single school with 250 students. DeFabiis was superintendent for more than 20 years, also serving as the school’s principal and business administrator. He retired on June 30.
Duncan is the rare breed of superintendent who agreed to take the pay cut once her pre-cap contract expired. Under a new three-year agreement, her base pay this year drops to $167,500.
Part of the vocational sector that doesn’t fall under the caps. Bistocchi oversaw a district that helped transform public education in the state with selective career academies. The Union district has five academies in all. Bistocchi retired last November.
The youngest of the group, the 42-year-old Anderson leads the state’s largest district -- one of 16 outside the cap. Appointed by Christie in 2011, Anderson is also entitled to performance bonuses of up to $50,000 a year. Christie said last week that he plans to reappoint her next year.