Defining Comparability of School Administrator Contracts
Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation in July which prohibits the NJ Department of Education from establishing a maximum salary for school superintendents. The law maintains the review and approval by the Executive County Superintendent of school district contractual agreements for the positions of superintendent, assistant superintendent, and school business administrator in accordance with standards adopted by the Commissioner of Education. These standards are incorporated in regulations (6A:23A-3.1). The law maintains many of the existing administrative code requirements for approving school administrator contracts. One significant condition requires the following:
“Contracts for each class of administrative position shall be comparable with the salary, benefits, and other emoluments contained in the contracts of similarly credentialed and experienced administrators in other school districts in the region with similar enrollment, academic achievement levels and challenges, and grade span.”
No additional administrative code proposals have been promulgated as of this date to guide the review of contract proposals. Updated guidance to the “Executive County Superintendent Review of Administrator Contracts Q & A” was issued by the Department of Education in August 2019. Included in this guidance is information on comparability: “The district board of education seeking ECS approval of a proposed contract is responsible for all documentation used to determine comparability. The ECS is responsible for validating the data to ensure that it is accurate.”
It is critically important that each NJASA member contact the NJASA Legal Department to speak with an attorney as you begin to consider any new contract proposal. This consultation is critical to achieving a contract which complies with law and regulation and ensures that your individual situation is carefully addressed.
There is no ‘recipe’ to define comparability, especially given the broad nature of the definition contained in the law and current regulations. Initially identifying districts like yours and speaking with other chief school administrators about their contracts can be helpful. Dialogue with colleagues during meetings of the NJASA County Affiliates can also be helpful. Additionally, the sources of information contained in the NJASA Resource Document, Defining Contract Comparability, will assist you in selecting data to determine comparability for your contract and prepare you for discussion with your NJASA legal counsel. This document provides links to key indicators for you to consider in meeting the district obligation to define comparability. Information sources include the following along with other suggested factors to examine:
- The Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending - a comparison of district financial and staffing data based on enrollment and operating type;
- The User Friendly Budget Information for all School Districts – Information on shared services, tax rates, and summaries of compensation for select school district administrators;
- A compilation of select Certificated Staff Report Data for all superintendents, school business administrators, and assistant superintendents including education levels, years of experience, salaries, and credentials;
- Enrollment data for all school districts;
- State aid summaries for all school districts;
- Dropout Data for school districts;
- Graduation Rates for school districts;
- District totals for certificated and non-certificated staff;
- Current listing of Priority/Focus/Reward schools;
- District Factor Groups from the 2000 Census;
- Current and historical data for Residential Housing Units authorized by Building Permits;
- Special Education Data and Reports for all districts; and
- Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse incidents for all districts.
Defining Contract Comparability is available to members on the password protected area of the website. It is my hope that you will find all the information that you need using this resource to successfully provide documentation establishing contract comparability to the Executive County Superintendent along with your contract proposal. I ask that you contact us to suggest other sources of information that can be helpful to our colleagues as they construct their documentation for consideration.
I and the NJASA staff members work daily to provide members with advocacy, training, and support in pursuit of our mission: “The mission of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the unifying professional association of school leaders, is to ensure a superior statewide system of education by influencing and effecting educational policy, regulations and legislation; and by maximizing the capacity and effectiveness of school leaders through professional development programs and support services.” I believe that this work contributes to meeting our goal of providing support services to members.
Richard G. Bozza, Ed.D.
NJASA Executive Director