Gov. signs legislation to remove cap on salaries for school superintendents

Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation into law that prohibits the state Department of Education from regulating the maximum salary a board of education may pay a superintendent of schools.

Murphy signed the legislation on July 19.

In 2010, Gov. Chris Christie announced the creation of new regulations to cap salaries for school district superintendents. The governor said he took the action to ensure fiscal discipline and to promote the prudent use of property tax dollars.

The initial maximum salary for a superintendent was $175,000, with limited exceptions. In the decade since the regulations went into effect, the maximum salary for a superintendent was increased to about $191,000, with limited exceptions.

Under the regulations established in 2010, a superintendent had the ability to earn annual bonuses and to increase his income above the maximum salary amount if he met certain criteria established by the school board.

The results of the regulations included the retirement of experienced superintendents shortly after the salary cap was established; instances in which some school district employees (i.e., a business administrator) were paid a base salary higher than the superintendent; and a turnover of superintendents, some of whom left New Jersey for jobs in New York and Pennsylvania where there was no cap on a superintendent’s salary.

The legislation signed by Murphy on July 19 leaves the decision about how much to pay a superintendent in the hands of the members of a school district’s board of education.

In the final votes in the state Senate and Assembly, some local legislators supported removing the salary cap for superintendents and others did not.

In the Senate, Declan J. O’Scanlon Jr. (R-Monmouth) and Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) voted “yes” to remove the salary cap. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) and Samuel Thompson (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Burlington) voted “no.”

In the Assembly, Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth) voted “yes” to remove the salary cap. Robert Clifton (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Burlington), Ronald Dancer (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Burlington), Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), Joann Downey (D-Monmouth), Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) and Edward Thomson (R-Monmouth, Ocean) voted “no.” Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Monmouth, Ocean) did not vote.