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Christie: Fishbein Shouldn't Make More Than Me

The governor has no plans to acquiesce the Ridgewood BOE's request to skirt a salary cap that would lighten its superintendent's wallet considerably.

If you were expecting Gov. Chris Christie to change his stance on superintendent pay caps, you might not want to hold your breath.

Responding to the Ridgewood school board's efforts to have the caps lifted or at least to allow for a higher salary, Christie at a press conference Monday offered a simple "sorry."

“Everyone is being asked to make some sacrifice here,” said the governor, who passed the law in 2010 without action of the legislature. “I think a lot of people in New Jersey think $165,000 is a perfectly acceptable salary to be superintendent.”

The NJ Department of Education estimates annual savings from the superintendent caps – which limits salaries from between $125,000 and $175,000 – at about $10 million.

Detractors argue, however, that talent fleeing the state costs far more.

Ridgewood might be facing that crossroads in five months, when Superintendent Dan Fishbein's contract expires. Ridgewood is Bergen County's largest school district with nearly 6,000 students, hundreds of staff members and a $90 million budget.

Should he stick around, the popular schools chief would face a cut of more than $50,000 to $167,500, plus annual merit-based bonuses determined by the county superintendent.

Village school board officials say the caps are based on school enrollment, not experience or skill.

If Fishbein spurns the district and flee the states, Ridgewood school board members say their negotiating position will be hindered by the caps. Finding the best candidate won't be easy, board members say.

Neighboring Glen Rock offers a glimpse at the challenges of losing an experienced administrator and facing new realities on compensation.

Before the caps came into play, the district was paying ex-Superintendent David Verducci a salary comparable to that of Fishbein. Nearly a year after Verducci's sudden retirement announcement, board members are still looking for a leader, with $60,000+ less cash to woo with.

Though he remains unswayed by Ridgewood's request, Christie recognizes the challenges that come with the title.

“Superintendent is a tough job, especially in a town like Ridgewood,” Christie said at the press conference, according to northjersey.com. But the governor's job is "pretty tough too" and he's not looking for a raise, Christie said, noting that Fishbein's compensation well outpaces his own $175,000 annual pay day.

“I think they can work at $165,000. I don’t think that should be a problem.”

In a few month's time, Ridgewood will know for sure.

jp1 January 16, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Why not give the superintendent the same benefits as the fat man, a multi million dollar mansion,helicopter and chauffeur for his car and then call it equal.
Josie January 16, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Your point about the school budget is well taken! In 1980 the Glen Rock school portion of our taxes was 58.06% and the municipal portion was 28.38% (I actually found a copy of my 1980 Borough Calendar with the tax chart when cleaning out my garage). 32 years later in 2012 with a larger tax bill it was 70% for the schools and 20% for the Borough (21% when you add in the library level with is now listed separately). So here is the million dollar question – why has the municipal portion been reduced by -7.38% per dollar while the education portion has increased by +11.94%? For the 21 cents on the dollar that I pay in taxes I get a lot of service from the town. The school budget is the true killer when it comes to property taxes. Until we deal with the school funding issues any so called taxpayer relief will never occur. It if you did away with half of the municipal budget taxes would still be far too high. No one would even notice the decrease except for what would not doubt be large scale reductions in the municipal services that people count on.
Fred Grygiel January 16, 2013 at 10:45 PM
josie you have outlined a research project that deserves to be undertaken by a joint ad hoc committee of the BOE+Borough. The lack of concerted cooperation over time has probably weakened the possibilities for seeing the tax problem as a common one. But let me note that the education of the Borough's children is clearly "the" most important commitment of a community to the future of their children. Is it worth it? Is there waste & excessive prerogatives for teachers & administrators? Judging by some of the comments the answer is a definite yes...what to do about it?
denise January 20, 2013 at 12:03 PM
Its all a vicous cycle isn't it and much much broader. ...everyone wants a mcmansion and a mercedes...the american dream but everyone is greedy and wants to make more so sg&a needs to increase for every employer not just schools and then someone suffers a cut to afford your mcmansion and eating out every night. If we didn't know what our neighbor made would you be happy with$165k...especially when the avg american salary is less than half that number. Downsize your standards and help contribute to the bigger issue at hand
chele February 06, 2013 at 02:24 PM
If CC wanted to make significant, lasting, worthwhile cuts, he should have started with the police, firefighters and teacher's UNIONS (any and all, including our sacred cow, the library)...NOT the superintendents (who are non-union). Makes an interesting headline for about two minutes and then...well, it's not much of anything at all. How about making it impossible to collect more than ONE pension and go from there? Requiring that public employees pay a more real-world portion of their healthcare is a drop in the bucket, but a start. The devil is in the contractual details of union salaries and the crushing cost of their lifetime benefits. Ken Gabbert was instrumental in negotiating a reduction in those costs for Rwd & he's being hung in the public square and maliged by Judas Donovan and the rest for his efforts. When a phys ed teacher makes more than the CEO of your district, something is most certainly out of whack. Parking meter collectors making over 82K? anyone remember that little story? It's the UNIONS STUPID...

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