Fine Print: Superintendent Salary Caps

John Mooney | November 2, 2010 | Education
By capping school superintendents' salaries, the Christie administration maintains it can save $10 million in yearly salaries

Synopsis: Three months after first proposing them, the Christie administration yesterday released the detailed regulations for capping superintendent salaries to no more than $175,000 for most districts, depending on enrollment.

What it means: The new regulations — now slated to go into effect in February — detail how the salary caps would be applied, as well as merit bonuses, which would be available to administrators who meet local board goals. There are few changes to what was first proposed, and the governor’s office maintains that 70 percent of current superintendents would see their pay cut once current contracts expire, saving districts nearly $10 million in wages.

Interesting new detail: The merit bonuses — which must be approved by the state — lean toward quantitative measures, such as increases in student test scores or graduation rates. School boards could adopt up to three such goals for their superintendents, each worth a bonus equal to 3.3 percent of salary or a total of 10 percent. The boards could adopt no more than two qualitative goals, each equal to 2.5 percent of a superintendent’s salary. In all cases, the bonuses would not be cumulative or applied to a superintendent’s pension.

The counter-argument: Many local superintendents, school boards and their representatives have strongly opposed the new caps, saying they would lead to an exodus of qualified school leaders. The state’s superintendents association yesterday put out a press release raising a host of questions and criticisms, pointing out, for instance, that many school principals not under the cap would exceed their superintendents in pay. The association’s leaders have not ruled out a legal challenge.

What’s next: The regulations do not require approval of the State Board of Education or the Legislature, but still must go through a public review process. Four hearings have been scheduled, each starting at 6 p.m.

  • November 18, Kean University in Union;
  • November 29, North Warren Regional High School auditorium in Blairstown;
  • December 2, Cumberland County College, Conference and Events Center, Vineland;
  • December 7, Burlington County Institute of Technology, Westampton Campus auditorium.