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.