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Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt that would help rein in costs for school superintendent contracts was approved on Thursday 11-0 by the Assembly Education Committee.

“Superintendent’s contracts should be fair, consistent and most importantly transparent. Taxpayers shouldn’t be required to hire an actuary to determine the effect of unusual clauses or contract provisions for Superintendents in different school districts throughout our state,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “This legislation will level the playing field for all involved in the process of negotiating a contract.”

The bill (A-406) would require the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, to develop a model employment contract for superintendents of schools. Among the items the contract must address is: salary, health insurance, pension benefits, sick days, and vacation leave.

“This is a cost-saving measure, but more importantly, it’s a common sense measure,” said Cryan (D-Union). “With schools facing steep cuts in state aid, we need to make sure that reDests are maximized and focused on the classroom experience.”

The model contract must provide that salary, benefits, and other compensations do not exceed those of similarly credentialed and experienced superintendents in other districts in the region with similar enrollment, academic achievement levels and challenges, and grade span.

“Eliminating exorbitant perks for superintendents is another tool to help local governments stay within the new two-percent property tax cap,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “As some of the highest paid public employees in the state, it’s important that superintendent contracts are entered into carefully and wisely, without the golden parachutes and sweetheart deals we have seen cost taxpayers money in the past.”

The provisions of the model contract must also ensure compliance with all applicable laws including recent enactments regarding travel restrictions, the nullification of the employment contract in the case of certification revocation, restrictions on the payment of supplemental compensation for accumulated unused sick leave, and restrictions on the use of vacation leave.

Once the model contract is finalized, school districts would be required to use it for the employment of all superintendents of schools. The mandated model employment contract may be altered by the school district and prospective superintendent of schools only with the prior approval of the commissioner.

The provisions of this bill would apply to contracts entered into or renewed on or after the 90th day the legislation is signed into law.