State Journal

Jumbo Payout Gets Fierce N.J. Backlash

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

The retirement package was generous, to say the least: more than $500,000 to the longtime superintendent of a New Jersey school district that was deemed to have “special needs” by the state department of education because it has so many low-income students.

The repercussions continue, as state officials from Gov. Jon Corzine on down demand to know about the payout by the Keansburg school district—and to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen elsewhere.

At the center of the controversy is Barbara Trzeszkowski, who served for nearly 40 years as the head of the 1,800-student Keansburg district. When she leaves the four-school district June 30, Ms. Trzeszkowski is to receive a $556,000 severance package and an additional $185,000 for years of unused sick and vacation time under the terms of her contract. Her current salary is $173,000.

The package touched a nerve in New Jersey, where legislators last year passed a law setting limits on excessive spending.

Gov. Corzine, a Democrat, issued a statement condemning the bonus as “contrary to any reasonable public policy.”

Late last month, state Attorney General Ann Milgrim and Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy sued to void the severance package, though not the vacation or sick-leave time. Ms. Davy also vowed to review the contracts of all the state’s 560 district superintendents.

Neither Ms. Trzeszkowski nor Keansburg school officials responded to a request for comment from Education Week.

The New Jersey Department of Education already has been seeking greater accountability for what it sees as excessive spending, said Kathryn Forsyth, the department’s director of public information.

Commissioner Davy has asked the 6,500-student Plainfield district to rewrite the contract of its new superintendent, for example.

But Ms. Forsyth does not expect the statewide review to take very long or to turn up situations similar to Keansburg’s.

“That was the face of excessive spending and was not the norm,” she said.

Vol. 27, Issue 41, Page 15

Published in Print: June 11, 2008, as Jumbo Payout Gets Fierce N.J. Backlash
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories