Fine Print: Jersey City School Superintendent Contract

The Jersey City board of education is ready to rehire Superintendent Charles Epps, but Commissioner Schundler, a Jersey City native, has expressed misgivings about the move

Synopsis: The Jersey City board of education is slated to vote tonight on a new three-year contract for superintendent Charles Epps Jr., who has led the district since 2002. It is the first time the local board has had power to hire a superintendent since the state gave back certain authorities following twenty years of full state control.

The numbers:

  • Salary: $268,200 per year, no increases
  • Vacation days: 22 per year
  • Sick days: 15 per year
  • Personal days: 5 per year
  • Annuity: $10,000 annuity each year
  • Retirement: Provision for Epps to cash in 493.5 unused sick days from before 2002, a holdover from his previous contract.
  • According to a per-diem formula, the total amount of the buy-back is $71,712.50.
  • Other benefits: District-owned car, and driver for official business
  • Between the lines: A group of local advocates — some of them public officials — have protested the renewal, saying the district needs fresh leadership. A legal challenge has been filed with the state arguing that the renewal was done without proper notice.

    Jersey City also is state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler’s home town. Schundler is promising big changes and reforms in schools statewide, and has expressed misgivings about the district rehiring Epps, especially without a full national search.

    What else: The Epps contract will be one of the first high-profile contracts to come across Schundler’s desk since he and Gov. Chris Christie announced new limits on superintendent pay, topping out at $175,000 for districts up to 10,000 students. The limits do not apply to Jersey City and 15 other districts with more than 10,000 students; instead the state and county superintendents have discretion to review and determine compensation.
    What’s next: The local board is expected to approve the contract, having already voted for the extension. Once approved, the contract will go to the county superintendent for review, and Schundler’s office has said the commissioner will personally review it as well.

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