MARLBORO – The Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education has cancelled the existing contract it had with Superintendent of Schools Eric Hibbs which had three years to run and replaced it with a new five-year agreement.
Board members voted 5-2 with two abstentions to approve Hibbs’ new contract at their Oct. 17 regular meeting.
Board President Debbie Mattos, Vice President Steven Shifrinson and board members Randy Heller, Joann Liu-Rudel and Robin Wolfe voted yes on a motion to approve the contract.
Board members Robert Daniel and Craig Marshall voted no on the motion.
Board members Dara Enny and Ellen Xu abstained. Enny abstained due to a conflict of interest and Xu abstained because she said she did not see the finalized contract before she was asked to vote.
Hibbs, who arrived in Marlboro in 2013, was two years into a contract which ran from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020, and was paying him an annual salary of $165,000 in accordance with a superintendents’ salary cap that had been approved by the state.
The superintendents’ salary cap was recently revised.
Hibbs’ new contract will run from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022. He will be paid $191,584 in 2018-18 and is entitled to a 2 percent increase each year, according to the board. Including the increases, the superintendent’s salary in 2021-22 will be $207,376.
As in his previous contract, Hibbs is eligible for three quantitative merit goals and two qualitative merit goals. Each quantitative goal completed will award him with 2.66 percent of his base salary and each qualitative goal completed will award him 2 percent of his base salary, according to the board.
The contract states that “in the event the salary cap regulations sunset, are declared invalid by a court … or are modified in any ways, the parties agree to reopen this contract to negotiate a new and more favorable compensation structure for the superintendent.”
In New Jersey, a superintendent’s salary is determined by a district’s enrollment. Marlboro’s current enrollment is just under 5,000 students. The previous cap for 3,001 to 6,500 students was $165,000. The new cap for the same number of students is $191,584.
Commenting on his vote, Daniel said, “I am 100 percent yes for Dr. Hibbs and 100 percent yes for what our district is achieving. I joined the board in January and I am very proud to say I serve on the board. I am simply voting no because we have an election (on Nov. 7).
“We will be electing one to three new people to the board and I do not support awarding a new contract (several) weeks before we are electing new people to a three-year term. In no way am I voting no for Dr. Hibbs. I am just voting no for this particular contract,” Daniel said.
Marshall said, “I think it is unfortunate that it seems to have turned into an evaluation on Dr. Hibbs, which I think was inappropriate. Evaluations are done at a separate time in a separate process and unfortunately I think some people turned it into ‘If we don’t give him what he wants, he’s going to leave’ and to my recollection he has never said that.
“I look at it as this would be the second time a contract is rescinded and a new one issued when we have three years remaining on it and I think the only reason why it is even being brought to the board was because the governor lifted the (superintendents’ salary) cap.
“Everybody has a right to ask for more and as long as there are two parties that agree to renegotiate, I would imagine that most, if not all, contracts could be changed. Given our current climate, I don’t think this is the prudent thing to do,” Marshall said.
Shifrinson, who is a retired administrator from the school district, said, “I see this as an endorsement in what he has done and what he continues to do. I worked for Eric for a couple of years and we didn’t always see eye to eye, but I respected his opinion. He has changed how Marlboro has operated and the district is moving forward.”