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6-10-14 Senate Education Committee hearing - S1987 Salary caps bill and S125 Sports Participation bill both pass out of committee
Star Ledger -NJ lawmakers hear criticism of superintendent salary cap ”… discussion on the repeal of a superintendent pay cap dominated the meeting, with more than a dozen speakers supporting the bill, sponsored by committee chairwoman Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). The salary cap is “the single most damaging regulation of public education” that has created instability and anxiety at a time of major school reforms, officials said [Michele Lenhard, Ridgewood board of Education member and GSCS Vice-President]. “We’re losing our most experienced and brightest superintendents to early retirement, New York and Connecticut,” Ridgewood Board of Education president Sheila Brogan said, noting that 27 Bergen County school superintendents have left their posts since the cap. “There’s a brain drain of school leadership in New Jersey…”…Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Morris) voted no, saying public officials agree to accept less compensation when they sign on. “I think we have more problems in New Jersey, property taxes are totally out of control,” he said. Ruiz said the measure was intended to start a conversation and educate lawmakers about “the unintended consequences” of the cap. “We need to be up to speed with the woes that some of our districts are facing. We are losing valuable expertise to our neighboring state,” she said. After the hearing, Ruiz said her goal for introducing the measure was conversation, not necessarily passage. “It was done through regulation, and it needs to be dismantled through regulation,” she said.

NJ Spotlight - State Lawmakers Clash Over Controversial Cap on Pay of Superintendents...Democrats cite exodus of talent from school districts while Republicans link high salaries to high taxes

North Jersey The Record Satehouse Bureau - NJ legislative wrap-up for Monday, June 9, 2014...Legislative committees met Monday and considered education-related bills[among others]..."Critics of the bill [S125] said that sports teams cost money and that if a student wanted to participate in public-school athletic activities, he or she could enroll in that school. If a student attends a charter school, for example, most but not all of the money for that child’s education follows the student to the charter school."

Cherry Hill Superintendent Maureen Reusche testified on S125 which expands sports participation in traditional public schools to allow for charter school and home-schooled students, as well as confirms participation of vo-tech students...the bill also allows traditional public school students to participate in sports progams administered by charters and vo-techs...click here on more to read articles on S1987 and S125 testimony (Reusche)...

Star Ledger -NJ lawmakers hear criticism of superintendent salary cap  ”… discussion on the repeal of a superintendent pay cap dominated the meeting, with more than a dozen speakers supporting the bill, sponsored by committee chairwoman Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). The salary cap is “the single most damaging regulation of public education” that has created instability and anxiety at a time of major school reforms, officials said [Michele Lenhard, Ridgewood board of Education member and GSCS Vice-President].

“We’re losing our most experienced and brightest superintendents to early retirement, New York and Connecticut,” Ridgewood Board of Education president Sheila Brogan said, noting that 27 Bergen County school superintendents have left their posts since the cap. “There’s a brain drain of school leadership in New Jersey…”…Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Morris) voted no, saying public officials agree to accept less compensation when they sign on. “I think we have more problems in New Jersey, property taxes are totally out of control,” he said.

Ruiz said the measure was intended to start a conversation and educate lawmakers about “the unintended consequences” of the cap. “We need to be up to speed with the woes that some of our districts are facing. We are losing valuable expertise to our neighboring state,” she said. After the hearing, Ruiz said her goal for introducing the measure was conversation, not necessarily passage. “It was done through regulation, and it needs to be dismantled through regulation,” she said.

By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on June 09, 2014 at 2:20 PM, updated June 09, 2014 at 3:23 PM


The committee approved a bill would that prohibit the New Jersey Department of Education from “regulating the maximum salary” of superintendent of schools.TRENTON — During testimony before the state Senate Education Committee today, superintendents, local board of education members and officials from many education groups described the “brain drain” in the state’s schools caused by the salary cap for superintendents.

The committee also approved a bill that would allow charter, vocational and home schooled students to participate in high school sports programs in the district where they live, one that would regulate steroid use in athletes and another that would require panic buttons and other safety measures to be installed in schools.

But discussion on the repeal of a superintendent pay cap dominated the meeting, with more than a dozen speakers supporting the bill, sponsored by committee chairwoman Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex).

The salary caps, adopted by the Department of Education in 2011, range from $125,000 for districts with 250 or fewer students to $175,000 for districts with 6,501 to 10,000 students.

The salary cap is “the single most damaging regulation of public education” that has created instability and anxiety at a time of major school reforms, officials said.

“We’re losing our most experienced and brightest superintendents to early retirement, New York and Connecticut,” Ridgewood Board of Education president Sheila Brogan said, noting that 27 Bergen County school superintendents have left their posts since the cap. “There’s a brain drain of school leadership in New Jersey.”

The many resignations have created a “cottage industry” of interim superintendents, who come out of retirement to run districts while new leaders are sought, which means they draw pensions and salaries simultaneously.

“We need to change what we’re doing because it’s not working,” said Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer).

Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Morris) voted no, saying public officials agree to accept less compensation when they sign on.

“I think we have more problems in New Jersey, property taxes are totally out of control,” he said.

Ruiz said the measure was intended to start a conversation and educate lawmakers about “the unintended consequences” of the cap.

“We need to be up to speed with the woes that some of our districts are facing. We are losing valuable expertise to our neighboring state,” she said.

After the hearing, Ruiz said her goal for introducing the measure was conversation, not necessarily passage.

“It was done through regulation, and it needs to be dismantled through regulation,” she said.

 

NJ Spotlight - State Lawmakers Clash Over Controversial Cap on Pay of Superintendents

John Mooney | June 10, 2014

Democrats cite exodus of talent from school districts while Republicans link high salaries to high taxes

The controversial caps on school superintendents’ salaries may have few friends in public school circles, but it doesn’t sound like the Christie administration is budging much-- at least for now.

The state Senate’s education committee yesterday heard an hour of testimony in favor of a bill that would effectively end the caps imposed in late 2010 by Gov. Chris Christie and then-education commissioner Bret Schundler.

Related Links

Fine Print: Bill Would Eliminate Superintendent Salary Caps

The caps limited annual pay to $175,000 – the same as the governor’s own salary – for a vast majority of school chiefs, depending on enrollment.

The bill that would lift the caps has strong support from Democratic leaders, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney calling the pay limits a “big mistake” and the influential chair of the education committee saying it is time to fix the regulations.

“It is time to roll up our sleeves to deal with the unintended circumstances of the cap,” said state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the committee’s chairwoman and a prime sponsor of the new bill.

But there appeared little sympathy or support from the administration or the Republican members of the education committee.

Acting state Education Commissioner David Hespe said yesterday that his department continues to review the impact of the rules, but he said there were no plans to ease the limits either through statute or regulations, at least for the time being. The regulations, imposed by administration directive, expire in 2016.

“We are constantly reviewing this, but we have no immediate plans to change our position,” Hespe said yesterday in an interview.

And the GOP members of the Senate committee didn’t provide much more of an opening, with some of them openly contesting the complaints and touching off a rare open argument within the committee.

State Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Warren) quizzed two superintendents who testified for the bill about their own pay, as well as any health benefits and bonuses, and what their pension benefits would be.

One superintendent, Michael Rossi of Madison, said he was paid $157,500 a year.

“Sen. Doherty, I’m going to ask you to get to your question, please,” Ruiz interrupted Doherty.

“With all due respect,” Doherty responded, as he pursued details of Rossi’s cell phone and transportation expenses. “I am asking him some questions to what is exactly this gentleman’s compensation.”

“This is about salary, not about full compensation,” Ruiz shot back. “This is not about an interrogation of one individual.”

Doherty shot back at Ruiz: “I am not the one who posted this bill and held this hearing.”

The exchange spoke to the continued divide between Christie’s position and the rising chorus against the caps, first led by the superintendents themselves but now joined by school boards and principals who have struggled to deal with the turnover of superintendents that has ensued with implementation of the caps.

The chief worry is that many veteran school chiefs have retired early due to the caps, or left for better paying jobs in New York and Pennsylvania. Board members and others have maintained that separate caps on tax levies and administrative spending have helped keep contracts under control with the strict caps.

“It is important for everyone to know and appreciate that I have been a public educator for 35 years,” said Michael Polizzi, superintendent of New Milford schools, “beginning as a basic skills educator and working toward two master’s degrees with the goal of moving up the career ladder.

“I chose to stay at significant cost to my family, which places me at an increasingly significant minority,” Polizzi said. “The committee and the Legislature need to know the full implications of an ill-advised and detrimental policy placed on superintendents, and superintendents alone.”

The committee vote was 3-2, with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposed.

“We have real problems in New Jersey,” the GOP’s Doherty said. “The one person not represented here are the taxpayers of New Jersey, and those who can’t afford to stay and are being driven out.”

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North Jersey - NJ legislative wrap-up for Monday, June 9, 2014

JUNE 9, 2014, 7:19 PM    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, JUNE 9, 2014, 8:01 PM

BY MICHAEL PHILLIS

STATEHOUSE BUREAU

THE RECORD

Legislative committees met Monday and considered education-related bills and forwarded the names of eight superior court judges to the full Senate for renomination.

Athletics  [S125]

A bill that would allow students who attend vocational and charter schools or are home schooled to participate in sports at public high schools was released by a state Senate committee Monday.

Sponsors of the legislation said it addressed a lack of opportunity for some students who do not attend public schools and are not allowed to be join sports teams in their local districts. The bill was heard by the Senate Education Committee.

To be eligible to participate in public-school athletic programs, the students would have to meet academic eligibility requirements, live within the school district and pay any fees associated with the sport.

Critics of the bill said that sports teams cost money and that if a student wanted to participate in public-school athletic activities, he or she could enroll in that school. If a student attends a charter school, for example, most but not all of the money for that child’s education follows the student to the charter school.

Cherry Hill Superintendent Maureen Reusche testified on S125 which expands sports participation in traditional public schools to allow for charter school and home-schooled students, as well as confirms participation of vo-tech students...the bill also allows traditional public school students to participate in sports progams administered by charters and vo-techs...click here on more to read articles on S1987 and S125 testimony (Reusche)...

S125 STATEMENT per NJ Legislature website (6-10-14)

   This bill requires school districts to allow students who receive equivalent instruction other than at school, and students who attend charter schools or county vocational schools, to participate in interscholastic sports programs in the student’s resident district in accordance with the same criteria established for students enrolled in the district.

     Under the bill, a student who receives equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school who wishes to try out for, and participate in, school-sponsored interscholastic athletics in his resident district must:

     1)    provide proof that he resides in the district;

     2)    meet the sports participation requirements established by the school district for students enrolled in the district such as physical examinations, insurance, age, academic, and other requirements.  The student must comply with the same standards of behavior, responsibilities, and performance as other members of the team; and

     3)    demonstrate to the board of education that he is receiving an academically equivalent education compared to students enrolled in the school district and that he is academically qualified to participate.

     Under current NJSIAA rules, the participation of such a student is at the discretion of the board of education of the resident school district.

     In the case of a student enrolled in a charter school or county vocational school, the student may try out for, and participate in, interscholastic athletics in his resident district if the student’s charter school or county vocational school does not sponsor an interscholastic sports team in the sport in which the student wishes to participate.  In order to participate, the student must comply with the requirements listed above, other than the requirement to demonstrate academically equivalent instruction.  Under current NSIAA rules, a student enrolled in a charter school or full-time in a county vocational school may only participate in interscholastic athletics in the resident district if the principal of the charter school or county vocational school, as applicable, and the principal of the resident district school agree to such participation.

     Under the bill, any controversy in regard to whether a home-schooled student, a charter school student, or a county vocational school student meets the eligibility requirements for student athletes established by the NJSIAA will be adjudicated by the association in compliance with its constitution and by-laws.

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Senate Education Committee hearing 6-9-14: S125 Sports Participation bill/Testimony by Maureen Reusche, Superintendent Cherry Hill Schools

For the public schools in New Jersey, S-125 represents one more “unfunded” mandate; this bill would require that school districts allow charter school, county vocational school, and home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic sports programs on resident district’s sports teams…

Students whose families opt for a charter, vocational, or home school setting make the choice for reasons other than interscholastic athletics. If they decide they want the athletic opportunities offered in our schools, then they can always opt to enroll in our schools.”

Good morning.  I am Dr. Maureen Reusche, Superintendent of the Cherry Hill Public Schools, and I am speaking to you today about Senate Bill 125, which is currently before this committee.

For the public schools in New Jersey, S-125 represents one more “unfunded” mandate; this bill would require that school districts allow charter school, county vocational school, and home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic sports programs on resident district’s sports teams.

When state aid to school districts was slashed in 2010, our district, like many districts in the state, reduced spending on athletic and co-curricular programs to direct more funding to the classroom.  We’ve worked hard to keep our budgets at or below the 2% levy cap and our extracurricular spending this year is $35 per pupil less than it was five years ago. The interscholastic athletic opportunities for the students who attend our schools have been reduced due to economic constraints; S-125 would further reduce the incentive to provide co-curricular and athletics for our students.

Putting the economic burden of S-125 aside, this legislation would also place administrators in the unenviable position of determining the academic eligibility of students who do not attend their schools and of making judgments about other schools’ academic programs and rigor. How is the definition of - “academically equivalent education” determined prior to a potential athlete demonstrating such equivalency to the board of education?   When differing opinions of such exist, what is the next step in the process?

S-125 will require administrators to determine whether a charter school program, home school program vocational program, or district program aligns with their curriculum and to certify that home-school students have a correct amount of credits to compete.

How should an administrator and/or coach make the determination that a home school, charter, district or county vocational school student has met “the same standards of behavior, responsibilities, and performance as all other members of the team or squad”?  It would place our coaches in a position whereby they have no administrative authority over students who don’t attend their schools.  It’s challenging enough that HIB reaches into the home when events occur off of school property; S-125 would require administrators to reach into schools where they don’t administer.

Finally and most important, please give some thought to the students themselves. Think of the pride and school spirit that students experience via the success of their teams and the ways that a school celebrates a team's accomplishments.  The student athletes who do not attend the school may be excluded from certain events because they simply aren’t in the school building during the school day when celebratory events take place.

In a recent newspaper article (attached) coaches from a variety of South Jersey schools were highlighted for the approaches they take to supporting and mentoring students academically.   Organized study halls or meeting with an athlete’s teacher require attendance of both the athlete and the coach in the same school building throughout the academic day.

Think, too, of the students who attend schools and have played on teams through the years, but now could lose their place to a better athlete who happens to reside in the district but chooses not to attend the schools.

Students whose families opt for a charter, vocational, or home school setting make the choice for reasons other than interscholastic athletics. If they decide they want the athletic opportunities offered in our schools, then they can always opt to enroll in our schools.  Thank you

Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828