|Superintendents' Salary Cap--Ginsburg Testimony 2-15-18|
TESTIMONY ON S692 SENATE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2018 Good Afternoon, Chairman Sarlo and members of the Committee. I am Betsy Ginsburg, Executive Director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. We support S692, and thank you and Senator Ruiz for sponsoring it. We also thank the co-sponsor, Senator Gill. Our 100 plus districts are represented by both superintendents and Board of Education members, giving GSCS a unique perspective on the Superintendent Salary Cap. I am here today to comment on the economic implications of the cap and the educational and economic benefit of eliminating it. • Costly Superintendent Searches: Since the imposition of the Salary Cap, some seven years ago, numerous experienced superintendents have left the state for New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, none of which have similar caps. This has meant that districts have had to embark on laborious and often costly superintendent searches. The available candidate pool is less experienced and talented than before the salary cap. • Interims Cost More: The use of interim superintendents, as a result of the cap, has been a net negative for State finances as the majority not only earn a salary from the district but also draw on the already overburdened State pension system. • Less Movement in the Administrator Ranks: Since the imposition of the Cap, superintendent salaries have lagged behind the salaries of assistant superintendents, business administrators, and principals, making superintendent jobs, with the added responsibility of running a school district, a less attractive option for qualified administrators. • Cost Controls Will Continue to Exist: Elimination of the Salary Cap will allow local Boards of Education to negotiate reasonable salaries commensurate with the experience and skill sets of superintendent candidates. Salaries must still be consistent with the constraints imposed by local taxpayers, not to mention budgets that are restricted to a two percent property tax levy increase. Though the DOE will no longer be able to limit superintendents’ salaries, the Executive County Superintendent will continue to review all superintendent employment contracts, thus minimizing the kinds of abuses that were used as a rationale for the original Salary Cap. o These built-in controls will virtually eliminate the superintendent salary “bidding wars” that some have predicted. • Experienced Superintendents Save Districts Money: Experienced superintendents know how to maximize district resources. Superintendents are at the forefront of cost-saving and cost-sharing arrangements with other districts, local municipalities and local businesses. Many are active in seeking grants and services that are available at little or no cost to local taxpayers. The Superintendent Salary cap was an example of sound-bite cost cutting that ultimately saved relatively few actual dollars and cost local districts both financially and educationally. Visionary educational leaders will move New Jersey forward and provide our students with the best possible opportunities. We encourage you to affirm the singular responsibility that local voters have long entrusted to their Boards of Education—that of providing their communities with the strongest, most experienced educational leadership at a cost those communities will accept.