BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District Board of Education approved a new five-year contract with Superintendent Russell Lazovick that takes into account new regulations regarding salary caps as recently approved by the New Jersey Department of Education.

In 2010, board President Jill Gladstone said, the governor imposed restrictive salary caps on school superintendents, which required no increases over six years.

“During this time, many experienced superintendents left to take an early retirement or move to a bordering state with no caps,” she said. “Some even retired from NJ public education and took a job in another state while collecting their New Jersey pension.”

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But, Gladstone said, in May, the NJDOE approved revisions to its cap regulations, with proposals to increase the caps commensurate with inflation, while also creating renewal incentives to help districts keep superintendents in the future.

The first change, Gladstone said, is that the maximum salary cap is now based on three enrollment categories, instead of six, which creates higher ranges for salaries.

“The relevance of this collapse in categories for us is that the new maximum base salary for a superintendent in Bridgewater-Raritan, with its enrollment of over 8,000 students, is now the same cap as a district with only 3,000 students, rather than a district with 6,501 students, the previous minimum enrollment of our category since it was enacted,” she said.

“The other big change is that districts now have the ability to pay above the maximum salary cap for renewed superintendents, subsequent to initial contract, up to 2 percent per year for each year of the contract,” she added.

One smaller change made to the regulations, Gladstone said, is that there is an increase from $2,500 to $5,000 in a stipend for superintendents working in a district with a high school.

“This new five-year contract will allow Mr. Lazovick to receive the revised allowable base salary of $191,584, the $5,000 high school stipend, and, beginning in the July 2021 to July 2022 contract year, an annual 2 percent increase above the new maximum salary cap,” she said. “Nothing has changed in the new contract with regard to earning merit bonuses.”

That increase will begin in the last year of the new five-year contract, or his sixth year at the district.

Gladstone said the district is proud to have found Lazovick, who she said has proven to be a model superintendent.

“We saw him facilitate the strategic planning steering committee that has laid out a strong framework of the five-year strategic plan with board approved goals addressing communication, health and wellness, program, safety, sustainability and technology,” she said. “We look forward to watching Mr. Lazovick guide us through the full implementation of this strategic plan, even as it folds into the next one.”

In addition, Gladstone said, the district began to address the administrative structure to properly manage functions, introduce a five-year program evaluation cycle and advise the board on the creation of permanent financial allocations for curriculum, facilities and technology.

“We saw him in the buildings, at athletic events and at concerts reaching out and getting to know our school community,” she said. “We saw an outstanding communications plan that will be presented to the public in the coming months that is above and beyond what most districts have in place.”

Gladstone said the board, which voted unanimously to move forward with the new contract, is pleased with the new direction.

“We are pleased that the DOE has recognized the importance of improving the compensation package of school superintendents in order to retain talent,” she said. “We have, in Mr. Lazovick, a high-caliber leader to steer the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District in a positive direction for many years to come.”

Lazovick thanked the board for moving forward with the contract.

“I thank you to the board, and I see this as a huge vote of confidence in the vision we set together for the next five years,” he said. “I also see it as a huge responsibility. I look forward to the next five years and what we can accomplish together.”