Christie Blocks Superintendent Contract Renewals, Questions Pay

Tuesday, 16 Nov 2010 01:53 PM

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration blocked school boards from renegotiating existing contracts with superintendents unless they comply with his pay- cap regulations that are scheduled to take effect in February.

The move came after Parsippany-Troy Hills schools chief Leroy Seitz was granted a contract extension last week that would have given him a salary above a $175,000 salary cap. The extension was voided yesterday by Morris County Executive Superintendent Kathleen Serafino after Christie called the deal the “poster child” for mismanagement in public education.

“If we’re asking teachers to sacrifice, administrators have to sacrifice too,” Christie said yesterday at a town hall meeting in Washington Township, according to transcripts released by his office. “They cannot be sitting here saying that they are some privileged class of folks who deserve to make that kind of money when everybody else in this state is tightening their belt and making due with less.”

Christie, 48, announced the pay limit in July as part of his package to control rising real estate tax bills. Seventy- percent of New Jersey’s 366 school superintendents may have to take a pay cut when the ceiling kicks in, Christie said then.

The plan would cap salaries at $120,000 for a K-8 district with fewer than 250 students, and $175,000 for an administrator in a district with as many as 10,000 pupils.

Seitz Deal

The five-year contract extension for Seitz that was approved by the Parsippany school board on Nov. 9 would have been effective Dec. 1, seven months before the expiration of his current deal, and would have provided 2 percent annual raises culminating in a $234,065 salary by 2014-15, the Daily Record reported. The district serves 7,250 students. Calls to Seitz’s office weren’t immediately returned.

Acting Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks yesterday asked the state’s 21 executive county superintendents in a memo to inventory all administrator contracts, reporting details including salary, contractual raises and expiration dates.

Hendricks was “working directly with the governor’s office” in calling for the review and blocking contract renewals or extensions for administrators with accords that expire before the cap takes effect, said Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the governor.

Christie, a Republican who took office in January, has clashed with education unions over his efforts to reduce public- employee pay and benefits. He told voters in April to reject school budgets where teachers refused to take wage freezes.

--Editors: Stacie Servetah, Ted Bunker

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton, New Jersey, at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.


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