Let's Tie Salary to Performance: JK!

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (as does everyone else today) that Gov. Christie has put the kibosh on school boards rushing to approve superintendent contracts above the salary caps heading down the pike. The particular ire-inciting contract is LeRoy Seitz’s new one from Parsippany-Troy Hills, rushed in before the deadline, which would set his salary at $225,064 for 2011-2012 and $234,065 by 2016. Under the new regulations, Seitz's salary will be restricted to no more than $175K.

Not so coincidentally, the Star-Ledger ran an interview yesterday with John Mooney of NJ Spotlight and William Attea, who runs a national search firm specializing in school leadership posts. (Young, Attea, & Associates is a popular choice among local NJ school boards searching for a new superintendent.)

Mr. Attea:
When you cap salaries, you cut out a lot of experienced people. Among the inexperienced or the wannabes, it won’t matter as much.
The fact of the matter is the pool of really good superintendents is smaller than the 17,000 school districts across the country. If you want mediocrity, they are out there and will continue to be. But if you want people who will really make a difference, this will hurt...

I think you will see a lot of your better people leaving or retiring. There’s a lot of grayer heads who will retire, and the crop of younger administrators with the most potential will bolt for other states.
While the Inquirer points out the obvious – “The cost of schools is a major reason New Jersey has the nation's highest average property-tax bill” – Christie’s cap seems antithetical to both his education reform agenda of tying compensation to performance and his free-market inclinations. Mysterious.