Continuing the administration's efforts to ensure the maximum amount of education funding stays in the classroom, Governor Chris Christie and Education Commissioner Bret Schundler today unveiled a proposal to cap and reform school administrators' salaries. The proposal would result in a salary reduction for 366 school superintendents, upon the expiration of their current contracts. Governor Christie and Commissioner Schundler were joined by Spotswood Superintendent Walt Uszenski. Uszenski, along with all of the Spotswood's administrative staff, accepted a wage freeze this year to help the district manage its financial difficulties.
"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. On the other hand, many administrators like Superintendent Uszenski stepped up this year to meet the financial challenges in their districts by accepting a voluntary pay freeze and I applaud their efforts and willingness to share in the sacrifice for New Jersey students," said Governor Christie. "It is our responsibility, in state government and at the local level, to act in every possible way to ensure that as many education dollars remain in the classroom as possible. This cap will limit excessive administrator pay and ensure that more dollars are available for our children."
Under the proposal, the maximum base salary that a district could pay a superintendent would rise with the size of the school district. The top salary for the superintendent of a K-8 district with fewer than 250 students would be $120,000. From there, salary maximums would gradually step up with the size of the school district to the point that the superintendent of a district with up to 10,000 students could be paid a maximum of $175,000. A superintendent in one of New Jersey's 16 districts with more than 10,000 students could earn a higher base salary.
In addition, administrator compensation would be restructured to provide the opportunity for non-pensionable, individual year merit stipends if superintendents achieve significant, state-defined improvements in student learning from the year before.
Commissioner Schundler discussed the plan with the New Jersey Board of Education in a conference call this morning and he will propose regulations to implement the Christie Administration's plan for governing salaries awarded to superintendents, assistant superintendents and business administrators.
"Especially in smaller communities like Spotswood, we can make a real difference by making sure taxpayer dollars go where they are needed most - to the classroom to help students learn," Commissioner Schundler said. "At a time when every dollar is precious, we must bring school administrators' salaries back into the real world, where taxpayers continue to struggle every day to make ends meet."
According to data provided by the New Jersey Department of Education, 366 school district superintendents are currently being paid more than the new regulations would permit. Once their salaries were brought down to the maximum levels proposed, the state would save $9.8 million a year.