Op-Ed: New Jersey’s Superintendent Cap was well-meaning but short-sighted

With complete control of New Jersey government for likely at least the next four years, Democrats are getting wasting no time getting to work on making sure your taxpayer dollars are spent faster than ever. They are also seeking to repeal the 2011 caps on school district Superintendents championed by former Governor Chris Christie. Senator Doherty is leading the charge against this repeal. Currently? The maximum superintendent base pay is $191,500 with the potential o earn a bit more if the impacted officials remain in the same district. 

The truth: the cap on superintendents pay is one of the most well-meaning yet short-sighted pieces of legislation passed during the Christie era.

Don’t get me wrong; there is a strong need to curb spending and limit some public salaries, but this legislation accomplishes none of that. 

The legislation at issue capped the salary of ONE position. Think about that.

Want to beat the cap? Don’t call yourself a superintendent anymore!

Sound stupid? Well, that is exactly what happened. When there is public money to be had, Senator Nick Sacco is always at the forefront and this issue is no exception. Before retiring as “Director of Elementary and Secondary Education,” Sacco was pulling in $261,000 last year and over $80,000 more than the North Bergen Superintendent whose salary was capped at $175,000. North Bergen High School Principal Paschal Tennaro pulled down over $258,000 as of 2017 despite technically being under the superintendent in the chain of command.

North Bergen isn’t atypical. In 2014, Harrison Superintendent James Doran changed his title to “Direct or Personnel” for the apparent purpose of avoiding the salary cap of $175,000. Instead, Doran now pulls down $260,000 or more in his new position.

The cap does not work at all because it’s swiss cheese, Save Jerseyans: full of holes!

A better solution is to simply institute an across the board cap on school salaries. New Jersey Democrats’ strongest suit is the ability to get around these caps with incentives and bonuses, but a broader cap could address the problem. Capping the salary of one position is symbolic at best and, at worst, and excuse to create more titles fetching large salaries.