Video: Christie names names in fight against inflated education salaries

posted at 1:36 pm on November 10, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

As part of his efforts to reform public school systems in New Jersey and apply resources more directly to students, Governor Chris Christie pushed through a landmark bill that would cap salaries of administrators based on the number of students within each system.  However, the law doesn’t take effect until February, and one district decided to act now in order to secure a salary almost $50,000 a year above the cap for its superintendent, LeRoy Seitz.  Christie blasted Seitz as “the new poster boy” of public-sector greed (via Cubachi):

The Parsippany Board of Education voted 6-2 tonight to renew the contract for district schools Superintendent LeRoy Seitz, just hours after Gov. Chris Christie called the contract greedy and arrogant because it would exceed the proposed pay cap for superintendents.

The board voted to extend Seitz’s contract, which expires July 1, by another five years, paying him an average annual salary of $225,064. The contract was approved by the Executive Morris County Superintendent Kathleen Serafino on Friday, according to board attorney Mark Tabkin. …

While the governor’s proposed cap doesn’t take effect until February, the administration has been quick to criticize districts that are trying to circumvent the cap by renewing or approving new contracts.

In July, Christie proposed a superintendent salary cap. Under the proposed regulation, superintendents’ pay would be directly proportional to the number of students enrolled in the district. The new regulation would have capped Seitz’s salary at $175,000.

Christie calls this “the definition of greed and arrogance” — and warned that Parsippany’s school board won’t get the last word on this matter. The contract has to be approved by the county, apparently, and Christie announced his intention to speak loudly and often to ensure that the approval never arrives. It gives Christie an almost-perfect anecdote to use in demonstration of arrogance within the public school system and its intent to torpedo the reforms demanded by the duly elected legislature and governor.

But there’s another reason for Christie to make an example out of Seitz. Had this gone unnoticed, every school board in the state would have tried gaming the system in exactly the same manner, hoping to outmaneuver Christie and the legislature. Christie makes it clear that he will fight back hard against the establishment if they attempt to work around his reforms, and that lesson will not be lost on those who prefer anonymity in that regard.


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I’ll be the contrarian here. I generally agree with Gov. Christie, but it seems to me that if you want the best educators and administrators, merit pay is the way to go and Mr. Seitz’ district has a much higher than avg graduation rate for NJ, over 98%. He seems to be doing a very good job, he shouldn’t be hamstrung by an arbitrary ceiling. I’d rather pay a superintendent based on the graduation rate rather than the number of students in the district.

On the other hand, a 2% annual raise at a time when few get a COLA and many are out of work does seem a bit greedy.

You can’t break the power of the educrats and their unions if you aren’t willing to have merit pay, which necessarily means paying some people more than the average wages for their jobs.

rokemronnie on November 11, 2010 at 2:27 AM

But there’s another reason for Christie to make an example out of Seitz. Had this gone unnoticed, every school board in the state would have tried gaming the system in exactly the same manner,

And right there is the problem.

What does behavior like that SAY about school boards (in New Jersey, anywhere since most would or do actually behave similarly to this one discussed).

It says they’re irresponsible, irrational, selfish and unprofessional at the jobs they’re expected to be doing.

Lourdes on November 11, 2010 at 5:48 AM

You can’t break the power of the educrats and their unions if you aren’t willing to have merit pay, which necessarily means paying some people more than the average wages for their jobs.

rokemronnie on November 11, 2010 at 2:27 AM

Really the truth.

We have to dissolve this stranglehold on our nation and our nation’s possible future by unions. Just reading elsewhere that SEIU members are the employees at CA DMV’s (if not elsewhere, too, but the story I was reading was as to CA). And the unionized government workers additionally, local, state and federal.

Lourdes on November 11, 2010 at 5:52 AM

I respectfully disagree with any notion that capping salaries will drive away the best candidates. There is nowhere else to go for these educrats that would be a better deal.

The cap redefines the market and others will follow if they have any stones at all. These rising costs have to end somewhere. This is a good hill to die on for this cause, IMHO.

JAW on November 11, 2010 at 7:39 AM

Over payed union schmuck.

Hening on November 11, 2010 at 8:02 AM

I’ve worked with plenty of talented people who could and would do the job for less thank 100K a year. Government salaries are soooooo out of touch with the private sector it’s ridiculous.

Free Indeed on November 11, 2010 at 8:28 AM

Just to make an interesting comparison, a two-star general (who is usually in command of a division equaling about 20,000 soldiers) in 2010 living in New Jersey would make approximately $189,338. That is including his/her housing allowance.

It would seem to me that being responsible for a unit of 20,000 people and all their stuff, is a lot more responsibility than that of running a school district. Just saying…

canoechick2001 on November 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Isn’t it great when a man is simply a man. Christie is a man in the best sense of the word, and it says a lot about our culture that this appears as such a political phenomenon.

rrpjr on November 11, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Just to make an interesting comparison, a two-star general (who is usually in command of a division equaling about 20,000 soldiers) in 2010 living in New Jersey would make approximately $189,338. That is including his/her housing allowance.

It would seem to me that being responsible for a unit of 20,000 people and all their stuff, is a lot more responsibility than that of running a school district. Just saying…

canoechick2001 on November 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM

The general also takes responsibility for his troops lives. That makes the general’s pay seem even lower in comparison.

Snidely Whiplash on November 11, 2010 at 6:37 PM

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