NJSBA attorneys are nearing completion of a model contract for chief school administrators. The model contract is just one part of the Association’s initiative to expand the scope and depth of its training and support for local school boards in developing superintendent contracts.
The model contract will reflect practices long recommended by NJSBA, including placing caps on payment for unused leave, avoiding bonus payments and requiring the board president to certify the contract has been reviewed by the board attorney. It will enable school boards to determine if the compensation package is reasonable for the community by “costing out” the value of all provisions and benefits.
The model is expected to be available by the end of September.
NJSBA’s initiative comes in response to ongoing concern about the provisions of some superintendent contracts, prompted earlier this year by the size of the Keansburg superintendent’s retirement package.
Since New Jersey superintendents are members of the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (a state-guaranteed retirement program), the Association strongly recommends against outright retirement bonuses attached to seniority, such as the half-million-dollar award provided to the Keansburg superintendent. Despite the intense public attention generated by that provision, the practice is almost unheard of among other school districts.
State-Required Template Meanwhile, NJSBA officials offered to meet with an Assembly Education Committee member who, last week, announced plans to require a standard statewide contract template for all superintendents. The goal of Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) is to control costs and avoid wide disparities in benefits, according to a statement from the Assembly Democratic Office.
NJSBA officials hope to demonstrate how the Association’s model agreement would help Diegnan accomplish his goal.
“As long as they are not overly rigid, some state controls will assist local school boards in balancing a school district’s need for educational leadership with the community’s financial interests,” said Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director.
Diegnan plans to introduce his bill when the Assembly reconvenes Sept. 15.
Training Update NJSBA has incorporated a unit on superintendent contract development into the state-required training programs in school governance, law and finance for experienced board members. The new training will be first offered on Oct. 28 and Oct. 30 at Workshop 2008. (Workshop registration information is available on line, through the NJSBA Call Center at (888) 886-5722, Ext. 5217, or via email.
The training will also be available through regional sessions, live Webinars and pre-recorded online programs. Within a three-year cycle, all 4,800 New Jersey school board members will have received the training in superintendent contract development. To reach those school boards most directly involved in superintendent contract negotiations, NJSBA is also offering training in contract development through its Superintendent Search Service.