A cap on state superintendent salaries is leading Tom Baruffi, the superintendent of both Mainland Regional High School and the Linwood school districts, into retirement.
Baruffi, 53, recently announced he will retire at the end of the school year. The state salary cap for superintendents, enacted in February 2011 and proposed by Gov. Chris Christie as a method of curb property tax increases, would equate to a more than $30,000 cut in salary if he renewed his contract, which is up this year.
Under the new salary regulations, New Jersey superintendents pay rates are based on the districts’ student population, with superintendents in districts with fewer than 250 students making $125,000 and increasing incrementally to as high as $175,000 for districts with 6,501 to 10,000 students. Superintendents would earn an extra $10,000 for each additional district they supervise, and an extra $2,500 if their district includes a high school.
Baruffi became the superintendent of the Linwood School District in 2001, which served about 875 students, and signed a five-year contract to enter a shared services plan in 2009 with Mainland Regional School District, which serves about 1,400 students.
His current salary of $190,000 is split 60/40 between Mainland and Linwood, which has equated to a savings of about $750,000 for salaries and benefits over the course of the five-year contract, he said.
Under the new pay scale, Baruffi would make $157,500, or $32,500 less than he is making.
But the pay cut isn’t the only factor Baruffi considered. He said he feels that sharing a superintendent between the two districts is no longer an effective plan given the state’s high demands on its schools. He will recommend to both districts that they revert to having their own superintendents despite the savings of sharing.
“What made it so challenging is that there was two separate school boards, two separate budgets, and with so many demands from the state, it’s not effective,” Baruffi said.
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