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Watson Reappointed Superintendent, Takes 30 Percent Pay Cut

Bruce Watson, superintendent of Fair Lawn Public Schools, will return for the 2012-2013 school year.

Bruce Watson will remain the superintendent of the Fair Lawn School District -- for at least one more year.

On Tuesday, the reappointed Watson, whose previous five-year contract was up at the end of June. He'll make $167,500 next year, which, as of last February, overseeing a district the size of Fair Lawn.

Watson's new salary represents a 30 percent decrease from the $240,000 he was paid this year.

"Some people will say that I’m still overpaid...some people will say 'too bad for him,' and they feel sorry, and some people just say that it’s in the line of what he should be paid," Watson said. "It’s all opinionated and I don’t really want to debate against the community’s opinions. They’re entitled to their opinions...It is what it is."

Watson said he agreed to stick around at least one more year, but hasn't decided on his future after next year is up.

"I haven’t thought about it. I’ve been too busy trying to close out a school year," he said. "I’ll probably take the summer to think about those things. For now, the commitment is with this board."

Before coming to Fair Lawn -- first as the district's business administrator and later its superintendent, a position he's held for the past 11 years -- Watson spent seven years working in the corporate world doing upper level international software service and sales for both small and mid-cap companies.

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Sylvia Weintraub June 27, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Well, Mr. Watson is a class act and I applaud him for staying. If he managed boro hall he would have received approximately 7% increase in over less than 2 years!
progress June 27, 2012 at 01:20 PM
thanks mr watson for setting a good example... how in the world did it get to the point where the superintendent made $240,000, that is insane? now lets cut 20% of all the supervisors, principals, vice principals, and teachers who make over 120 k just because theyve been there so long. give a raise to the hardworking teachers who grind it out everyday and make less than 60k.
Sylvia Weintraub June 27, 2012 at 01:23 PM
As a senior citizen, I am truly afraid my town of Fair Lawn has become a real mess, time to set sail for Florida, a senior friendly state!
Tommy P June 27, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Folks, Bruce is not giving back $50,000, he is just proving he was overpaid by at least that much for YEARS. The real reason he is staying is there is no where in the private sector, or even the government sector, that he can make $167,000. Thank you Governor Christie!
Tommy P June 27, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Did it occur to you there was no where else he could go to make that much money?
Elaine June 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Well, my house was revalued down 30%, so that makes it about right :)
MC61249 June 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Well the haters are out in full force on this one! He is giving back 50K. None of you would give back 30% of your salary! There are plenty of other places he can make 167K with his background and education. When he finds one the parents of kids who are in the district will be sorry. Maybe we can get one of those "cheap" adminstrators that are running a school system in Mississippi. Sylvia have a safe trip.
Chris Antonelli June 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I'd like to know how his background qualifies him to be a school superintendent.
Chris Antonelli June 27, 2012 at 03:53 PM
A little uninformed, are you? Most of the districts fall under the new salary guidelines and supers max out at roughly 175K for a district our size. That's still way more than most states in the country. So, where are they going to go? Besides, someone from Mississippi would probably come here and say, "Why do we have all of these people sitting around doing nothing for?". And yes, I'm well aware what goes on in the BOE. So don't even start. Yes, he took a 30% pay cut. But where was he when he kept overpaid administrators and laid off teachers? It is about education, right? Who do the administrators teach?
BellairBerdan June 27, 2012 at 04:12 PM
It's funny to remember history. In the 1990's tenure was taken away from superintendents in the Conservative wave with the idea that no one deserved a job for life and automatic raises. The free market would decide what a superintendent is worth and what they should make. Well guess what? The free market did decide. Supers worked under contracts and when they expired they either moved to other districts or the district negotiated higher salaries to keep the good ones. Now here we are. The free market has spoken and we pay more than ever before. Good school districts pay more to have better. Now the free market isn't so good and we need a cap. So what's the next great Conservative idea? Take away tenure from teachers. Some people never learn.
Tommy P June 27, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Government Education is NOT a free market. Parental Choice would be much closer to a free market.
Tommy P June 27, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Chris the facts are not relevant. There is a narrative that some would like to forward in hope of confusing the masses. Watson didn't take a 30% paycut, he accepted an offer for a new contract which was 30% less than the previous contract. The fact remains, he is overpaid, just not as egregiously.
Jenne June 27, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Oh, Tommy. Get over yourself. You wouldn't see someone taking that kind of pay cut in the private sector you like so much; they'd ask for a buyout instead. Even when the town and district saves money, you grouse. (I love your comment about how 'government education is not the free market'-- but market economics is what drove NJ superintendent salaries up so high, just like it drove the salaries of libertarian geeks up so high in the 1990s and keeps the salaries of financial investment professionals-- even those fresh out of Columbia with a liberal arts degree-- so high now.)
Chris Antonelli June 27, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Jenne, The public sector is not the free market unless you throw in some quid pro quo action in there. All Supers are in bed with the BOE, PTA and NJEA. What rational thinking people would have let this get out of control unless they wanted something in return.. I have friends that want jobs too. NJ residents just let them get away with it. We have a Principal from Lodi serving on our board. Seriously? How is that not deemed a COI. How does that board member not feel its a COI? Even a slimy lawyer wouldn't take a job if there was a hint of a COI. Now go re-read the first paragraph.
Chris Antonelli June 27, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Tommy, Facts are always relevant. Never forget that. They are the only thing that is relevant. Anything else is speculation. And I think he was still in the middle of his last contract. Although the article doesn't say either way.
Tommy P June 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Jenne, it is happening in the private sector. People are taking pay cuts, we have 9% to 16% unemployment depending on how its measured. The thing that drove up government workers pay was an alliance between elected officials and their unions. Take the NJEA, their members have over $700 sent automatically from every teachers check directly to Trenton. They act, as they should, as a lobbying firm to increase the pay of teachers. The local school boards are made up of people from the system. All the people at the negotiating table have a vested interest in seeing an increase in salaries and benefits. What did you think was going to happen? Spin it any way you want, if Bruce was left with an ultimatum of demonstrating an offer we needed to beat by 10%, we'd save at least another $50k.
educator June 27, 2012 at 06:04 PM
someone whos profession is in education should concentrate on educating our children, not becoming millionaires. fair lawn had a superintendent making 240k until recently, supervisors and adminastrators making 150k, and gym and history teachers making 125k because they have been there for so long (not because thier job is harder). you know who suffers from these inflated salaries- the children because the money that should be going to thier facilities and resources are going to the ridiculous salaries. you people can not compare these jobs to private sector. private sector salaries come from production- not the tax payers pockets.
BellairBerdan June 27, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Parents do have a choice. You love to spout that 16% of Fair Lawn's kids choose another route other than the public school. That seems like parental choice to me.
fairlawn taxpayer June 27, 2012 at 08:55 PM
my tax dollars at work -- 30 years of paying school taxes without having kids so he can get paid huge bucks. Even with the reduction, he is grossly overpaid for the size of this district.
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Really? June 28, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Chris, Who is the "principal from Lodi serving on our board"? I don't think you have a clue about what you are talking about.
Tommy P June 28, 2012 at 05:41 AM
The fact is those 16% pay twice. The BoE is the most expensive part of our tax bill. The costs there make city hall look semi-responsible. If Parents were able to choose where their kid goes to school not by the block they live on, but by choosing which school their child goes to, Bruce's salary would not be up for discussion here. If he were really good, his pay would be higher then $240,000 he was taking out of our pockets. If he werent I would me much less or 0. BellairBerdan help me understand, you want to attack the rich with higher taxes, complain about the little guy paying too much, then you're against letting working families, single parent households etc chose where their child goes to school?
BellairBerdan June 28, 2012 at 10:34 AM
So now you're not for people paying for what they use? You're very confusing Tom. You want people that use the pool and library to pay the full price of its cost. But, when it comes to parking lots and schools that's different? Your problem is that you don't like democracy. No matter how the People vote you want to nullify their choice for your own idea. You want the tax money I pay to be redistributed to individuals and take away my vote for a representative that will oversee how it's spent. For you it's a sin to tax the rich but it's just fine to take away my voice via a vote and redistribute my money to those like yourself. BTW Tom, as far as paying twice. You choose to live in Radburn. You pay twice. That's your choice to be governed by the People and a private governing body. Or do you think everyone should subsidize you living there because you want extra?
tommy the clown June 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM
ok genius- say they allowed FL parents to chose what school they went to. out of all lthe elementary schools its common knowledge amongst parents that milnes is the best (just an example). most if not all parents will went thier kid to go to the best one, so is milnes going to have 2000 students enrolled and lyncrest only have 20? if too many kids want to go to one school who decides which kids get to and which kids dont make the cut? now we get to high school- do you suggest we build another school to give people a choice? are you crazy enough to suggest kids can go to HS in any town they chose? if so ill be glad to point out all the holes in that too. your ideas of no government are cute but obviousily you dont think them through very much
elle Rano June 28, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Maybe if you have been at a job over 5 years they should continue to cut your pay and hire young enthusiastic college grads also. Sounds good to me.... as for me-I would like my child with a teacher who is experienced and seasoned...Good Luck!
Chris Antonelli June 28, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Oops, sorry. Wrong info. Long days. Rosenberg and Frenkel are currently employed by districts in Bergen County. Really? Wallace is a retired teacher. Really? And, if you look closely, some have close relatives employed by districts as well. Really? You don't see a conflict of interest? So.... Really?
BellairBerdan June 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Chris, I'm curious. Why do you find this a conflict of interest but not that our mayor and deputy mayor work for the county?
Chris Antonelli June 28, 2012 at 02:06 PM
M. Rano, I work in the private sector. My pay is not off the backs of the taxpayers.
David Fidler June 29, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Wow, seems the further to the right you are, the less you've been able to show value to your employer and be compensated for it... I guarantee there are plenty of jobs out there where you aren't taking huge pay cuts and I guarantee that our Superintendent could find one due to his experience. For a bunch of people screaming free market you seem to have NO CLUE how markets function... And @Chris- these people are ELECTED, if you think they're tainted then ELECT other people.
Billy Mays June 30, 2012 at 07:05 PM
BellairBerdan shooting the mouth off again before the brain is engaged. Give me a break.

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