NJ Charter Schools are Outside the Superintendent Salary Cap

I decided to get the NJEA talking point out of the way in the headline, Save Jerseyans. Now I will present to you why this fact does not matter, and is actually justified. I will admit, when I first saw the headline on NJ.com last night, I was ready to write a post bashing the Governor for leaving these publicly funded institutions outside a cap that I and many voters and taxpayers who are fed up with the bloated administrative costs of education support. However, the very article that decries the “problem” of charter school administrator salaries gives some rationale for why (but still manages to ignore many other key factors).

As many are well aware, on February 7th of this year Governor Christie instituted a cap and a sliding scale for superintendent pay in New Jersey’s public schools. This scale tops out at $175,000, a number that many superintendents are still managing to be well above on their current contracts.

Well it seems that 63 administrators in New Jersey’s charter school system are currently surpassing the cap. However, many of these administrators are performing multiple tasks at their charter school, which are often staffed at far less a level than the average public school of the same size. The NJ.com article gives an example,

Many charter school directors aren’t lavishly compensated and must wear many hats, according to Carlos Perez, executive director of the New Jersey Charter School Association. Vincent DeRosa, the founder and principal at the 109-student Classical Academy in Clifton, made $85,490 last year and, in addition to teaching, does minor repairs and other jobs.

Minor repairs? Could you imagine asking a union teacher or administrator to go above and beyond like that to ensure their school functions at the level these charter schools do (and by that I certainly do mean a superior level to most public schools in the state). In many districts, $85,000 is the median salary. The idea that a founder and principal who also teaches and does maintenance work should earn less than that is laughable.

Where the NJ.com article does not tread is to the fact that charter schools on the whole result in greater performance and education for students at far less a cost to taxpayers. Charter schools receive thousands less in state aid than public schools on a per student basis, but consistently out perform. This can be directly attributed to examples like those above, where charter schools simply do more with less.

While the charter schools make due with less funding, the public schools face their own hardships: the NJEA, collective bargaining, an overall culture of liberal entitlement that exists throughout the public sector. No matter who you blame, they all tie the hands of administrators. Unfortunately, these are the realities our public school superintendents must deal with. In light of that, I would like to make a proposal:

When students in public school districts can match or outperform their chartered counterparts nearby, they too can go outside the cap. That should be incentive enough to motivate some changes and improvements…right?