Compensation by Population?
It’s been quite a year for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He spent the entire year advocating for the residents of his state in the face of an enormous oil spill and clean up effort. The guy has put in some serious overtime hours.
So what if his salary was cut for no reason other than that Louisiana has fewer people living in it than half of the other states in the US? Crazy, right? But for a large number of school superintendents in New Jersey, this threat is real.
Following on the heels of his decision to cut all state categorical financial aid to many of our school districts, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed that superintendent compensation be based solely on the total number of students enrolled in their districts. Superintendents could receive bonuses based on student performance on standardized tests, but there would be no recognition of any other factors. Additionally, no attention would be paid to the board of elected officials in each district who are charged with making these decisions on behalf of their fellow taxpayers.
In an interview with the Newark Star-Ledger, William Attea, senior associate and chairman of the national school leadership search firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates stated that a move like this would result in “a lot of your better people leaving or retiring.” In fact, a story in the Wall Street Journal stated that one of the targeted administrators, Margaret Dolan, the successful superintendent of the Westfield, NJ school district, “would retire rather than take a pay cut that would reduce her pension.”
I get it that the state of New Jersey is in a state of emergency. I understand that there is no proverbial “blood from a turnip.” But Governor Christie has got to lay off of the schools. After the loss of 100% of my district’s categorical aid money last year, there was an outcry, some isolated panic, and then we figured out how to do more with less. Where there were once lunch and classroom aides, we now have mothers, dumping trays and putting take-home notices in kindergarten backpacks. A computer program and an hour-long, parent-funded class replaced the Spanish program.Continued on the next page