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In Renewing Contract, Holmdel Schools Superintendent Takes 28% Pay Cut

Superintendent Barbara Duncan accepts a lower salary, capped by state regulations, and signals intent to continue through 2016.

The Holmdel Board of Education voted unanimously to renew the contract of Superintendent Barbara Duncan for a three-year contract, from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016. 

Duncan is paid $231,000 a year to oversee the 3,221-student Holmdel Township public school district in four buildings. Under the new state regulations to cap superintendents' salaries and end tenure, Duncan's salary will be capped at $167,500 based on Holmdel's district size and configuration.

Going forward, a school superintendent's salary can be increased up to 15% via up to five possible “merit bonuses” payable that year only, and not pensionable. 

Before the Board vote on June 27, Board President Barbara Garrity said that the whole Board was pleased with Duncan’s performance and her leadership of the district. Members Ray Tai and Chiung-Yin Cheng Liu noted Duncan’s accomplishments, the district’s progress under her leadership, and their hope for a longer term, before casting their votes. 

Member Mike Sockol said, "I think it's important to note that while Ms. Duncan's pay is declining 28 percent, the Board doesn't plan to reduce her workload or our overall expectations by the same amount."

"In addition, we should be grateful that her willingness to accept a lower salary means Holmdel can avoid the challenge of looking for a new school chief at a time when more than 170 school districts in New Jersey have superintendent vacancies," said Sockol. Many observers believe that the salary cap has led to an increase in experienced superintendents retiring or taking top positions in other states.

As the contract terms are negotiated over the next few months, the contract length may increase, said Garrity. The Board and Duncan agreed it made more sense to set a three-year renewal at this time to ensure greater flexibility regarding final terms, especially since state regulations capping superintendent salaries have been challenged in the courts, said Garrity.

Her current contract runs through June 30, 2013, and requires that the Board provide one year’s notice of its intent to renew. 

Duncan declined comment on the issue, but said in a statement to Patch, "I appreciate the Board’s trust and support and I look forward to continuing to serve as Holmdel’s educational leader for the years to come."

Under the new accountability regulations, superintendent contracts, and those for assistant superintendents and school business administrators must be reviewed by the Executive County Superintendent and made available for 30 days of public comment before the Board can vote on it. 

Holmdel school district has earned distinction for exceeding state standards with its rigorous course offerings and student achievement on standardized tests and the National Merit Scholar program. Foreign language is offered starting at Grade One, and high school students can choose among five subjects, including Mandarin and Latin. More than half the students in Grades 3-12 participate in the instrumental music program.

Duncan's goals for the 2011-2012 are posted to the website, as well as an end-of-the-year report on progress toward goals. 

Nathan Boulman July 09, 2012 at 12:55 PM
My comments have nothing to do with her performance (which I believe to be satisfactory) but is she taking a pay cut because of new state regulations or because she is doing us Holmdel taxpayers a favor? In any event, $231,000 was a lot of money to educate 3,221 children. Now if we can get the rest of the administrators to take a 28% pat cut, then we're on our way to real fiscal reform. Thank-you Gov. Christie for laying the groundwork for this to happen.
Anthony Cooper July 09, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Nice work in achieving this cost reduction by the Holmdel Board of Education, which was facilitated by Governor Christie's groundwork and by Superintendent Duncan's cooperation! This prudent financial management is very much appreciated by all Holmdel taxpayers, particularly in these hard economic times. It is time for Holmdel's financially failing Township Committee to abandon their 2012 municipal "double raises" and their phantom "debt paydown" that doubles 2012 capital bonding while increasing the 2012 municipal tax rate by 10%. Rather, this errant Township Committee should emulate the fine example of financial prudence set by Holmdel's Board of Education in the matter of the Superintendent's salary reduction. Thank you, Anthony Cooper
bud July 09, 2012 at 02:08 PM
When does my property tax cut kick in?
Nathan Boulman July 09, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Mr Cooper, I wonder if you can explain your comments regarding the "double raises" and "phantom pay down of debt".
Anthony Cooper July 10, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Mr. Boulman, I can offer the following in response to your questions: 1) Attendees at a January Township Committee meeting learned that a group of municipal employees would be getting "double raises" in 2012 in exchange for deferring their 2011 raises. 2) The "phantom paydown of debt" is shown on 2012 municipal budget Sheet 27 as $1,570,000 for 2012 (item FCOA 45-925). And since this item is excluded from State CAPS, it causes the 10% increase in Holmdel's 2012 municipal tax rate. HOWEVER, this $1,570,000 does NOT pay down much debt because it's nearly all consumed by the $1,550,000 TOTALS for Column 5a (2012 Anticipated Capital Budget) shown on associated budget Sheet 40c. FYI, this Sheet 40c shows TOTALS of $750,000 for each year after 2012, and other data show this same $750,000 value is similar to TOTALS for years 2011 and earlier. Thank you for your interest.

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