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Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) is pushing a bill introduced this past December that would stop retired NJ school superintendents from “double-dipping,” or collecting pensions while hiring themselves out as interim superintendents. An investigation by NJ Watchdog and NBC found that 45 superintendents engage in this practice (which is hardly restricted to school administrators).
“As the New Jersey Watchdog and NBC 4 New York investigation revealed, these individuals are taking advantage and profiting from an opportunity that the state created,” said Caputo. “The state is no financial shape to allow this to continue. Sorry folks, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
Caputo’s bill, A-3523, would require retired administrators to quit collecting retirement pay when they return to public school jobs, plus resume contributions to the state Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund.
The NJ Watchdog article includes a chart that shows how much each of the 45 “double-dippers” made this year in both pensions and interim salary payments. For example, Joseph Abate Jr. of Hackensack City is making $270K this year, or about $167K in salary and $103K in pension payments.
The bill doesn’t address the reasons for the spike in the use of interim superintendents by NJ school districts. According to the article, 45 school districts are relying on interims this year, about 8% of all districts in the state. Many would argue that this unprecedented reliance on temporary school leaders is a result of Gov. Christie’s superintendent salary cap, which inadvertently (or not) encourages attrition and mobility by artificially restricting salary increases.