I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Superintendents Targeted!

Time to take out the Supers!

The Governor's latest reform proposal caps education administrator pay and puts an end to abuses in the system.
This action has the potential to save almost $9.8 million and help ensure that the maximum amount of education funding stays in the classroom. On average, superintendents' salaries have risen over twice the rate of inflation - a nearly 46 percent increase since 2001. This is a higher increase than teacher compensation or overall education spending. The ultimate cost to New Jersey taxpayers is over $100 million.
OK, I'm just a music teacher, but even I know that you don't compare wage increases to inflation - you compare them to other wages increases. Duh.

Fortunately, Bruce Baker is there to take on the stupid:
So, let’s review:
  • New Jersey administrative salaries do not seem to be the major driver of school district budgets over time. They have not crept out of control and consumed larger shares of school district budgets.
  • New Jersey administrative salaries have not grown with respect to regional wage growth over time. Adjusted for regional wage growth, district and school level administrative salaries have been relatively flat.
  • New Jersey public school district superintendents tend to be paid much lower salaries than those of private independent school headmasters for private independent schools geographically located in their district. Further the private independent schools tend to be much smaller in enrollment than a typical public school district.
  • Relatively large numbers of nearby superintendents in New York State earn salaries in excess of the highest New Jersey superintendent salaries, and far in excess of the maximum on the proposed salary scales above.
But, but, but.... gold-plated benefits! Or something...

Read Bruce's whole report, but I'll just add:

  • As I said before, your local superintendent spends a huge amount of time preparing for school budget votes. How about doing something about that to help efficiency?
  • Bruce's comparison of private and public administrators is quite brilliant. I was thinking of a comparison with the executive manager of a Fortune 500 company division that had hundreds of employees. Think they'd give up their options to manage 10,000 students and probably over 1,000 staff for $175K?
Let's be clear - this is all about vilifying public workers, because we dare not take on the real cost drivers in this state's government.


Bruce said...

A fun comparison that I've not had time to do is to compare school administrator wages to Hospital administrator wages. You can find the Hospital administrator wages on the non-profit tax filings for the Hospitals, or IRS990. These can be accessed through www.guidestar.org with a free account. The salaries of directors and/or highest paid employees are included on the 990. For example, the IRS 990 for Chilton Memorial shows the Chief Exec. earning a base pay of about $399,000, with a $140,000 bonus and $45,000 additional compensation. Or, use the same source of information to look at small private college administrator salaries.

Duke said...

Hospitals - that's a good one. How about directors of non-profit foundations? Or CEO's of companies that make their money from government contracts?

(Thanks for the links. But my boss is going to have to start her own blog...)

The more I think about it, what really irks me is the underlying notion that there are no market forces at work in public sector jobs; that, somehow, superintendents - and all public employees - have magically avoided market competition to get to salaries that are wildly high.

You need to create a pool of qualified people to do these jobs, and you won't have people go out and get themselves qualified if you don't provide an economic incentive for them to do so - doesn't matter if the job is public or private. If the barrier to entering the superintendent profession was lower, you'd have a lot more people "qualified" to do the job, and you'd be paying them less.

All these salary caps will do is shrink the pool of people who are willing to meet the requirements to do the job. Then what?

Probably lowering the standards to do the job. Then watch out...