Hoboken caught in the crunch of Superintendent reforms

With the State of NJ determined to reign in Board of Education Superintendent contracts at $175,000 – the same salary as its Governor, Hoboken is now caught between a rock and a hard place trying to hire its final choice for the district.

Although it’s not public knowledge, the likelihood the maximum length four plus year contract exceeds the State’s compensation limits expected in place by February is very likely if history is any indicator.

Dr. Mark Toback recently visited Hoboken

The previous selection Frank Romano was tabbed in the $185,000 ballpark.  Hoboken’s final district candidate Dr. Mark Toback is then in conflict with the State’s desire to limit pay for those positions.

The State’s acting education commissioner has declined to renew any new Superintendent contracts above the expected limits while final legislation moves ahead.  The Assembly just passed an overhaul on Superintendent compensation 78-0.  State Democrats carry the majority in the Assembly, the place where a roadblock to spending curbs would typically face opposition but there wasn’t a single vote against.

The Trentonian filed a story last Monday detailing the statewide efforts to reign in Superintendent compensation.

“This legislation is needed now more than ever,” said the bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, a Republican who represents East Windsor, Hightstown and parts of Monmouth County.

“When it comes to school superintendents’ pay, it has been divide and conquer property taxpayers. School administrators have been allowed to dictate their own outrageous terms to school boards, leaving taxpayers with the highest property tax bills in the nation,” Casagrande said.

Casagrande’s bill, A-406, would require school districts to use a model contract developed by the state Department of Education. The templates would also set “reasonable standards” for salary, health and pension benefits, and sick and vacation days.

Casagrande said the inspiration for writing the bill came when former Keansburg Superintendent Barbara Trzeszkowski attempted to claim $741,000 upon retirement, including unused time and a contracted severance payment.

The motivation to pass the bill grew when Parsippany-Troy Hills Superintendent LeRoy Seitz received a contract extension earlier this month that would have paid him an average annual salary of $225,064 over the next five years — well above Christie’s upcoming cap of $175,000.

Morris County’s executive schools superintendent, Kathleen Serafino, declared Seitz’s new contract null and void and Christie said school boards can’t renegotiate a superintendent’s contract unless it complies with his upcoming salary cap regulations, which are supposed to take effect February 2011.

The complete story from the Trentonian at the link:

Related: Ray Smith at the Hudson Reporter detailed their story on the current standoff.

Talking Ed Note: The candidate Mark Toback is clearly caught in the same spending net as any other potential Superintendent hire in the state with the Education commissioner believed to have the ability to set limits on pay for the position as the February deadline set by the Governor looms.  
The legislation including a package of reforms setting Superintendent compensation limits looks likely to move ahead with the passage in the Assembly.  It may clear the State Senate and arrive on the Governor’s desk sooner than later.
So who has more responsibility a Governor of the State of New Jersey or a district Superintendent?  Should the biggest public servant position set the standard for salaries or not?
Photo courtesy

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