The Christie Administration announced it is moving forward with a comprehensive plan to enact fiscal discipline and promote the prudent use of scarce property tax dollars by capping salaries for superintendents. The regulations, announced in July, will result in a salary reduction for more than 360 school superintendents who serve school districts with low numbers of students.

“In these difficult economic times, when fewer resources are available for our schools, it is not acceptable for superintendents in districts with fewer than 1,000 students to be paid salaries of $150,000 and greater,” said Governor Christie. “Capping pay to reasonable levels is a commonsense initiative that will end abuses that have been permitted for too long at the expense of our children’s education. By bringing superintendent salaries in-line with district needs, we will be able to save millions in tax dollars and put that money back where it belongs – in the classrooms.”

About 70 percent of the state’s school superintendents currently earn above the proposed salary caps, costing school districts a total of $9.8 million. Under the Governor’s proposal, superintendents earning in excess of the cap would have their salaries brought in line with the cap after their current contracts expire.

Acting Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks said the Governor’s proposal also introduces performance bonuses, which she said is an important reform in the way the state pays educators.

“Raises will no longer be automatic but will be earned, based on how students are performing in a school district,’’ Acting Commissioner Hendricks said. Local districts can develop criteria for how their superintendents can earn one-year incentives that will not count toward a superintendent’s pension. The districts' performance standards and proposed merit pay increases must be based on the attainment of key educational objectives, such as a year-over-year improvement in student learning, and will be reviewed by the Executive County Superintendents.

“After the one-year incentive expires, the salary reverts back to its pre-bonus level,” Acting Commissioner Hendricks explained. The Department and local school boards will determine new criteria so that superintendents can earn future one-year incentives if the performance of the district continues to improve.

To implement the pay caps, the Christie Administration will publish regulations in the Nov. 1 edition of the New Jersey Register. The regulations are available for review here: www.state.nj.us/education/paycaps. Four public hearings have been scheduled for 6 p.m., on the following dates:

  • Nov. 18 at Kean University in Union;
  • Nov. 29 at the North Warren Regional High School auditorium in Blairstown;
  • Dec. 2 at Cumberland County College, Conference and Events Center, Vineland;
  • Dec. 7 at Burlington County Institute of Technology, Westampton Campus auditorium, Westampton.

In related news, Governor Christie announced the appointment of members to the newly created Education Effectiveness Task Force. The nine member Task Force, established by Executive Order No. 42, is charged with recommending a fair and transparent system of educator evaluations that centers on student learning and achievement. The recommendations must center on a fair and transparent system of educator evaluations that fairly weigh measuring student achievement and utilizing demonstrated practices of effective teachers and leaders. The Task Force shall provide the Governor with an initial report no later than March 1, 2011.

Governor Chris Christie stated, “Teachers are the single most important factor in a student’s success in school. But today, the current method for evaluating the performance and effectiveness of educators throughout New Jersey is inadequate and unrelated to the most important goal we have as parents, educators and leaders: how well our children are learning.

“Today, I’ve appointed nine New Jerseyans to identify and recommend a system of evaluating New Jersey’s teachers and principals that puts results for our children at the core of these assessments. I look forward to reviewing the final recommendations of this distinguished group and moving forward with needed reforms that ensure every New Jersey child has access to a quality education with effective, accountable teachers at every step along the way,” the Governor concluded.

The Task Force will be chaired by Brian Zychowsky, Superintendent of Schools in North Brunswick Township, and include as members: Derrell Bradford, Executive Director and Director of Communications for Excellent Education for Everyone (E3); Jesse Rector, Clinton Hill Campus President of North Star Academy Charter School; Ross Danis, Associate Dean of Education at Drew University; Donna Chiera, an Executive of the American Federation of Teachers and Special Education Resource Teacher; Rafael Fajardo, former President of the Elizabeth Board of Education; Rev. Edwin Leahy, Headmaster of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark; Jane Cosco, retired teacher and Director of Operation Goody Bag; and PeggySue Juliano, Executive Board Member of the Lacy Township High School PTA. These direct appointments by the Governor do not require Senate confirmation.