|6-6-14 Salary Caps Bill ...Special Education Court Settlement|
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Bill Would Eliminate Caps on Superintendent Salaries...Legislation targets $175,000 limit that’s been hailed for fiscal prudence, blamed in part for exodus of administrators What it is: A bill sponsored by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) that would end the Christie administration’s controversial limits on superintendent pay will be heard on Monday in the Senate Education Committee. What it means: As the influential chair of the committee. Ruiz’s sponsorship of the bill is a big step in the growing legislative pushback on the salary caps that limit the salaries of school leaders, depending on district enrollments, to no more than $175,000.
NJ Spotlight - Schools Prepare to Comply with Special-Needs Court Settlement...Total of 76 districts across NJ must take steps to place students in ‘least-restrictive environment’
NJ Spotlight - Fine Print: Bill Would Eliminate Caps on Superintendent Salaries
John Mooney | June 6, 2014
Legislation targets $175,000 limit that’s been hailed for fiscal prudence, blamed in part for exodus of administrators
What it is: A bill sponsored by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) that would end the Christie administration’s controversial limits on superintendent pay will be heard on Monday in the Senate Education Committee.
What it means: As the influential chair of the committee. Ruiz’s sponsorship of the bill is a big step in the growing legislative pushback on the salary caps that limit the salaries of school leaders, depending on district enrollments, to no more than $175,000. The caps, instituted by regulations in 2011, have been blamed for an exodus of veteran superintendents in the state.
Simple language: The bill proposes an amendment to statute that lays out the role of the county executive superintendents in reviewing administrative contracts. The county officials have been at the center of the debate over the caps, serving as the Christie administration’s enforcers. The new language prohibits them from considering maximum salary limits and explicitly says the state Department of Education shall not set such limits.
Companion bill: An identical bill sits in the Assembly, sponsored by state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr., the chair of the Assembly’s education committee. That bill has yet to be posted in committee.
Powerful friends: The Senate bill has the apparent support of Senate President Steve Sweeney, who has repeatedly said the caps should be repealed and this spring called them a “big mistake.” Yesterday, state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), chairman of the Senate budget committee, added his name as a prime sponsor.
Powerful foe: While there is some sentiment for ending the caps among Republicans, it is unlikely to win support for the one Republican who counts most, Gov. Chris Christie.
Another route: The regulations “sunset,” or expire, in February 2016, and would need the administration’s renewal. There is some conjecture that both sides could agree to let the rules just run their course for another year.
In the meantime: Superintendents are still leaving, and the salary caps are certainly still a contributing factor. The latest to make a move to a neighboring state where there are no caps is Brian Osborne, who announced this week that he is leaving as superintendent in South Orange-Maplewood to lead the public schools in New Rochelle, NY.
Schools Prepare to Comply with Special-Needs Court Settlement
John Mooney | June 6, 2014
Total of 76 districts across NJ must take steps to place students in ‘least-restrictive environment’
A landmark court settlement that requires the state to better monitor and enforce laws requiring the “least restrictive environment” for special-education students is starting to filter down into scores of school districts across New Jersey.
The state Department of Education this spring finished up its first meetings with 76 districts affected by the agreement reached this winter.
The agreement applies to districts where rates of special-needs students in separate settings far exceed the state’s averages or show wide gaps between different categories of children.
The affected districts range from large urban districts like Newark and Jersey City to suburban ones such as Montclair, Hillsborough and Randolph. The list of districts is included in the settlement agreement.
In regional sessions held across the state and ending this week, the state’s special education director, Peggy McDonald, explained the new requirements to representatives of the affected districts.
The first major step will be needs assessments to be conducted in each district in the coming months, with results due to the state in October. That will be followed by heightened monitoring over the following two years, as well as specific measures required of districts. The consent agreement runs through 2019.
The court-ordered stakeholder group that will monitor progress in implementing the settlement has yet to meet.
The state’s full presentation that laid out the precise timelines over the next five years was posted last week.
“It’s showing that the state is doing what it needs to be doing at this point,” said Diana Autin, co-executive director of State Parent Advocacy Network, one of the groups that were plaintiffs in the court challenge.
Autin said it is still very early in the process, and the needs assessments will be a critical step. But she said state officials, including McDonald, have been supportive in meetings with parents and advocates.
“We are very pleased in the positive way (McDonald) has been speaking to parents about this,” Autin said. “The state is planning to move forward on this.”
Garden State Coalition of Schools