New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week announced an initiative to reduce salaries for public school superintendents that could save $9.8 million for school districts.
The proposal is part of the governor’s “tool kit” that aims to help local governments operate within a new 2% property-tax increase cap by helping to address growing employee costs.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will begin work on the tool kit today. Christie signed Cap 2% into law last week.
The Republican governor seeks to cut superintendant salaries once current contracts expire and to implement a sliding pay scale.
If approved by the Legislature, the initiative would affect 366 school officials, roughly 70% of superintendents, that currently receive salaries above the proposed scale.
The plan involves capping salaries based on school enrollment size. Superintendents in districts with 250 or fewer students would have a maximum salary of $120,000, while those in districts with 3,001 to 10,000 students would max out at $175,000.
Superintendents currently earn an average of $192,764 in districts with more than 1,000 students and an average of $152,764 in areas with less than 1,000 students.
New Jersey has 16 districts that have more than 10,000 students. Superintendents in those districts would be subject to separate rules developed by the Department of Education.
“While families and school districts across the state cope with fewer resources and continued fiscal challenges, many school administrators continue to receive salaries that are out of proportion with the private sector and current economic realities,” Christie said in a statement.
The governor did point out that many school officials have accepted voluntary pay freezes in light of the current recession.
In response to the plan, Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, said that negotiation of administrators’ salaries should continue at the local level and not involve a blanket statewide salary cap.
“New Jersey education administrative costs are less than those in 41 other states, and have been negotiated by taxpayers’ elected school board local officials,” Bozza said in a statement.
“Educational needs, as well as future contracts, should remain a local issue,” he said.