Governor Christie has announced a plan to cap the salaries of public school administrators outside of the 16 largest school districts at $175,000, the same amount as the Governor makes. That means that 70% of the superintendents in the system are looking at a pay cut. The State aims to save local municipalities $10 million.
Salary limits would also apply to nontenured assistant superintendents and business administrators. In addition, Education Commissioner Bret Schundler suggests that this may encourage districts to share superintendents and staff. Both of these facts would yield additional savings.
Although merit-based pay increases will be possible, the bulk of compensation will be based on the number of students served, and merit pay would not be count towards pensions.
At its core, this legislation seeks to stop the bidding war among school districts for administrators. Says the Governor:
"People are bouncing around like free agents in baseball, and getting higher and higher salaries as they go. What we're trying to do here is to shift the paradigm."
For their part, superintendents say that they deserve their salaries through their specialized understanding of personnel, finance, curriculum, administration and school-construction issues. New Jersey School Boards Association spokesman Frank Belluscio says that the cap will put the State at a disadvantage in attracting qualified candidates.
In response, the Governor has said that if the sole reason an administrator is working in public education is the money, we don't want that administrator anyway.
And therein lies the theme here. As we saw in the Governor's treatment of Clifford Janey, as echoed on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, the Governor does not believe in public education "careerists." This is nothing short of an attempt to purge senior administrators from New Jersey's public education system. And since this plan can be implemented by the Governor without a need for legislative approval, it's a done deal.
So add this to the Governor's attempts to undermine public education in this State. The Governor seeks to make private school more viable through a voucher system that pulls money out of failing public schools, has already instigated a landslide of public teacher retirements through changes to pension benefits, and now seeks to limit the pool of experienced and qualified public school administrators.