That's the sound of a 27-page appellate court ruling hitting the desks of New Jersey's school superintendents, who are outraged that the Christie administration dared to institute regulations capping their salaries based on the size of the districts they administer.
Somehow, New Jersey's school superintendents have always managed to convince local school boards that they deserve to be paid like kings. Many superintendent salaries in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties hover around $200,000 a year. In North Jersey, the salaries are even higher.
So, in 2010, when the state Education Department issued regulations capping superintendent salaries at $125,000 in the smallest school districts and at $175,000 in districts of up to 10,000 students (with some leeway to pay superintendents more in even larger districts or under certain circumstances), we cheered - and the New Jersey Association of School Administrators sued.
Last week, a three-judge appellate panel issued what should be the final ruling in the case, unless the superintendents foolishly press their case to the state Supreme Court.
The superintendents argued that the Christie administration did not have the authority to cap the administrators' salaries, which are set by local school boards.
But the appellate court ruled that the caps were completely in line with statutes approved by the Legislature giving the Education Department broad powers to rein in school costs.
"There is nothing arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable in the commissioner's effort to rein in spending with salary caps based on enrollment," the ruling said.
Furthermore, the court said that since the rules place only an upper limit on salaries, they do not usurp local school boards' authorities to set salaries. The school boards can always pay their superintendents less.
"We really didn't prevail on anything," Richard Bozza, the head of the Association of School Administrators, told NJSpotlight.com.
Nor should they have.
School superintendents have been fleecing taxpayers for years. Several school superintendents took issue with an earlier editorial on the caps in which we noted that superintendents have a largely administrative job that doesn't warrant such large salaries. But we'll stand by that point. What do these functionaries do that makes them worth more than the governor (he gets paid $175,000)? And it's not just the salaries - consider the pensions that superintendents walk away with based on those inflated salaries.
Original estimates said that more than half of the state's school superintendents could see their salaries cut when their current contracts expire. When fully implemented, the caps could save taxpayers an estimated $9.8 million statewide - money that could make a big difference in the state's classrooms, or in taxpayers' pockets. The caps are reasonable, overdue and, according to this appellate ruling, completely legal.