TRENTON, May 18, 2015—The New Jersey School Boards Association today thanked members of the state Senate for their support of legislation that would eliminate the state-imposed cap on school district superintendent salaries. The bill was approved this afternoon.
The legislation, S-1987, sponsored by Senators M. Teresa Ruiz and Paul Sarlo, would overturn state Department of Education regulations that restrict the salary that a school district could pay its superintendent. The caps went into effect in February 2011.
According to data collected by NJSBA in February 2014, the salary caps have been a major factor in superintendent turnover and have resulted in a decrease in experience levels of superintendent candidates. The situation will likely worsen when a large number of superintendent contracts expire in 2015-2016.
“The goal of the New Jersey School Boards Association is not to advance administrators’ salaries, but to ensure that local boards of education are able to carry out their responsibility to employ the best qualified individuals as superintendents,” explained Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “Our research shows that the superintendent salary cap is impeding local school boards’ ability to fulfill that responsibility.”
Unnecessary When the restriction was first proposed, NJSBA opposed the cap, terming it an unnecessary “cap within caps.” Several controls are in place to ensure accountability and fiscal prudence in administrative spending, according to the Association. These controls include the 2 percent tax levy cap; statutory limits on the annual growth of school district administrative expenditures; and oversight and review of school administrator contracts and compensation by the Department of Education.
NJ: Low Administrative Expenditures In addition, New Jersey spends less on public school administration than the vast majority of states, according to Feinsod. He pointed to January 2015 statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, showing that New Jersey school districts spend a smaller share of their budgets on school building and district administration than do 46 other states.
“Directing available resources to the classroom is an important goal, but the superintendent salary cap is not needed to advance that goal. It is unnecessary and will create a vacuum in educational leadership. It’s an experiment that New Jersey should abandon.”
This news release was updated from an earlier version to reflect more clearly the results of NJSBA’s February 2014 study of the impact of the superintendent salary cap.