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5-21-15 Education in the News

Star Ledger - Time to admit it: Capping superintendent salaries has backfired | Editorial

Gov. Christie's superintendent salary cap is hurting more than helping

Star-Ledger Editorial Board By Star-Ledger Editorial Board 
on May 20, 2015 at 6:03 PM

When Gov. Christie imposed a cap on superintendent salaries back in 2010, he trumpeted it as a cost-cutting measure. But the savings — about $10 million a year, in a state that spends more than $25 billion on its public school system — were a drop in the bucket.

And the cap itself was illogical. If this were truly about cost, why did it apply only to the salaries of superintendents? Why only to schools, and not any other public job? Why not police chiefs, or the Rutgers football coach?

The answer, of course, was political pandering. No one thinks we need to advance superintendent salaries, which was why this idea went over so well at the time. It was one of a number of ways Christie said we could control public spending, like scaling back union benefits and capping property taxes.

But when good superintendents started leaving their districts, lured by higher salaries across state lines, it became clear that the cap was a big mistake. Districts need to be able to attract top people. We don't want the best candidates to go to suburbs in New York or Philadelphia because they may be able to earn $50,000 more.

This coming school year, many more superintendents will see their contracts expire, and be newly subject to the cap. The state Senate voted on Monday to lift it, before it drives more superintendents to other states.

Let's hope the Assembly does the same.

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NJ Spotlight - JERSEY CITY CHARTER SCHOOLS CLAIM THEY’RE BEING SHORTCHANGED BY STATE…Disparity in aid compared to district schools is focus of continuing legal battle

JOHN MOONEY | MAY 21, 2015

While Gov. Chris Christie has proclaimed his support of charter schools, a segment of New Jersey’s charter school community is waging a persistent battle over whether they are being supported enough.

A group of charter schools in Jersey City has been in a legal battle with the state for the better part of two years, contending in a formal complaint that they have been shortchanged in public funding, leaving some on the brink of extinction.


Decision on Jersey City Charter Funding

Press Conference on Funding of Jersey City Charters

An administrative law judge last month sided with the state against the plaintiffs, leaving the next step in the hands of state Education Commissioner David Hespe.

But the legal battle is hardly over, and the dispute spilled over this week with a public protest in front of the Statehouse, where dozens of families and advocates from Jersey City charters gathered to rally for their cause.

The case revolves around an anomaly in the state funding for charter schools in Jersey City. The main issue is that the district’s charter schools, some of them among the most established in the state, have been left out of what has been a major source of revenue to the district.

The charter schools have argued that they should be receiving a full 90 percent of the district’s per-pupil costs for the students they serve, as dictated by the state law.

Instead, they have said, some schools receive the equivalent of as little as 40 percent or 50 percent of per-pupil costs, as the state law precludes them from tapping into hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called transition or adjustment aid to the district.

One of the leading voices has been the Ethical Community Charter School, which took part in the protests this week in Trenton.

During a press conference Monday, a compelling voice came from fourth-grader Louis Correro, who said the funding disparity has left his school without sufficient money to have a fully-stocked library or the ability to retain teachers who can earn a better salary elsewhere.

“Sadly, our school has never received full funding,” he said. “What if it was your child, your schools who were being treated differently?

Correro went on to describe how Ethical Community Charter School has received the equivalent of $6,900 per pupil, compared to overall total of over $15,000 spent in the district.

“I ask you, how is our school valued so much less that the district schools?” he said.

Afterward, the chair of the charter school’s board said the administration, for all its purported support of charter schools statewide, has left her school short.

“It’s mind-boggling to me to how they have not rectified this situation.” said Ann Wallace, chair of the school’s board. “And now it’s only getting worse.“

The state Department of Education has been quiet so far, with Hespe’s office this week saying it would not comment on pending litigation.