Friday, February 14, 2014

Salary Caps Have Not Caused an Exodus of Superintendents in NJ and Has Not Impacted Retention or Recruitment...Contrary to What Some Boards of Education Would Like Taxpayers to Believe

Stevens Park, Hoboken NJ Photo
The Hoboken Board of Education approved a letter to outgoing New Jersey Commissioner of Education Cref seeking a $20,000 increase in salary for the position of Superintendent of Schools at a recent Board Meeting. A review of the actual motion reads: 
WHEREAS, the Board's contract with its current superintendent will expireon June 30, 2015; and WHEREAS, the Board is looking ahead to negotiating with this and/orfuture candidates for the office of superintendent; and WHEREAS, salary caps for school superintendents in New Jersey tookeffect in 2011; and WHEREAS, in light of the significant challenges we face as a District,the Board would like the option of offering a salary in excess of theapplicable salary cap. NOW, THEREFORE, in anticipation of negotiations with thisand/or future candidates for the office of superintendent, the Boardhereby authorizes the Board Secretary to send a letter to theCommissioner of Education, on behalf of the Board, requestinga waiver of the applicable salary cap so that it would have theoption of offering a salary amount up to $20,000.00 abovethe existing cap. -2/11/14 

The Board would like the public and the NJ DOE to believe that the $20,000 increase is needed to either retain or attract a quality superintendent to the district. Furthermore, the Board wants the public to believe that somehow the state initiated salary cap prevents successful retainment or recruitment and thereby initiated a request a waiver. Unfortunately, actual data on the topic tells a much different story. In fact, FEWER superintendents are leaving their jobs since the caps were enacted a few years ago (!) than in the years before the cap was instituted. Since the caps have been implemented an average of 133 superintendents have left their position as opposed to an average of 153 in the prior three years). This is a fact that either the Hoboken Board of Education ignored, did not know about, or decided not to share with the tax paying public. 

Please read the story below for more details. Unfortunately, this Board is not making "data driven" decisions. Again, the rhetoric is easy if there is not a critical and informed public. It is worth noting that two Board members voted against the motion. -Dr. Petrosino

In a story by John Mooney for NJ Spotlight we read, Gov. Christie's controversial cap on school superintendent salaries has drawn plenty of questions and criticism since it was enacted in early 2011, but there's one thing it hasn't generated much of: hard data.

And at least on the surface, what little data are available belies the common assumption that superintendents are leaving the state in droves. In fact, fewer school leaders have left their jobs since the caps were enacted than in earlier years.

The New Jersey School Boards Association last week presented to its delegates' assembly its first comprehensive survey of the extent to which the salary caps have spurred school superintendents to leave their jobs.

The most common complaint has been that the caps, which are based on district enrollment and typically limit the superintendents' annual pay to no more than $175,000 - equal to the governor's salary - have driven veteran and valued superintendents to retire or move elsewhere to avoid severe pay cuts.

But while anecdotal evidence tells of respected education leaders making an exodus from New Jersey schools, the association's data have so far found actually a smaller turnover of superintendents since the regulations were put in place by former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, Christie's first commissioner.

According to the report, the annual turnover of superintendents has averaged about 133 in each of the three years since the regulation was enacted, a drop from an average of about 153 superintendent jobs turning over in each of the prior three years. There are 553 superintendent posts in New Jersey.

Of those who retired or moved to another district, a total of 55 superintendents - or about 18 per year statewide - specifically cited the caps as their reasons for leaving, the report said.

"My position is as it has been all along: It is the law of the state, and it will remain the law of the state," Cerf told the state's school superintendents at a gathering this fall.

The salary caps are as follows:
Student Enrollment of District(s)Maximum
251 – 750$135,000
751 – 1,500$145,000
1,501 – 3,000$155,000*
3,001 – 6,500$165,000
6,501 – 10,000$175,000

* This is the category for the Hoboken School District (student population under 2000 students)

In addition, the education commissioner can approve individual waivers of the maximum salary for districts with more than 10,000 students. Superintendents may earn $10,000 more for each additional district they supervise, and they could receive an additional stipend of $2,500 if their district includes a high school.

School boards could not increase a superintendent's base pay – for example, with longevity increases – beyond the predetermined salary caps. No superintendent contract with a compensation package above the salary caps could be extended. When the contract expires, the new compensation package needs to conform to the state’s policies. 

According to the Asbury Park Press's DATA UNIVERSE, the 2012 
(most current published) total compensation for the 
Hoboken Superintendent includes: 
Base Pay: $157,500
Allowances: $5,201
Bonuses: $23,610 
Insurance: $20,212
Additional Pension: $10,458
Retirement Pay: $30,144
Total Compensation: $247,125

For more details, Click Here 

Additionally, the Cost of Living adjustment (COLA) for 2012 was 
1.7% and for 2013 was 1.5%. The $20,000 waiver the Board 
seeks for the position of Superintendent is in the neighborhood 
of an additional 12.9% from the 2011 NJDOE cap.