The New Jersey Department of Education is considering loosening the cap on superintendents’ salaries by increasing the amount they could be paid annually.
The proposed amendments, released on Wednesday, reduces the number of enrollment categories, on which salaries are based, to three from six, and includes an increase in the salary cap in all of the three remaining categories.
The maximum salary for a superintendent serving a district of 749 or fewer students would be $147, 794. Superintendents in districts with enrollments of 750 to 2,999 students would be paid up to $169, 689. Those leading districts with 3,000 or more students could be paid up to $191,584.
The previous maximum was $175,000.
Superintendents in districts with more than 10,000 students will be able to apply to the Education Commissioner for a waiver to the cap, as they do today, the department said. But only one waiver request will be granted during a contract’s term, the department said.
But there will also be ways to exceed the cap. Superintendents that hold additional administrative positions in the district will be able to receive stipends that will put them over the maximum salary. And those who stay in the same district can receive 2 percent more than the cap allows in the first year of a contract renewal and a 2 percent increase for each additional year of the new contract.
Acting Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington said the state was “offering greater flexibility for school districts to attract and keep quality superintendents, while still promoting fiscal efficiency.”
New Jersey capped superintendents’ salaries in 2011 amid concerns over escalating property taxes. The cap forced a number of superintendents to retire early.
“These proposed amendments are a step in the right direction to correct the negative consequences experienced as a result of the current policy,” Richard Bozza, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, said in a statement. “School district leaders have retired early or left the Garden State to work in neighboring states. The current policy created a powerful disincentive for aspiring superintendents to seek a position in New Jersey and resulted in talented leaders opting to remain in other administrative positions rather than losing compensation.”
Bozza said superintendents’ pay should be a local issue.
And Lawrence S. Feinsod, the executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, said that while the organization appreciated the administration’s step, “we are disappointed that the salary cap concept would remain in effect.”
“NJSBA maintains that the superintendent salary cap is an unnecessary cap within a cap,” he continued. “The compensation package for the district’s chief education officer should be the purview of the local school board, which is responsible for the local governance of public education.”
The proposed changes will be published on Dec. 19, and will be followed by a 60-day public comment period, and public hearings in January. The final regulations are likely to be put in place next spring.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.