My Fox News Talks About Superintendent Alvarez’s Move to Rye, NY

Some N.J. school superintendents leave for N.Y.:

UPDATED: with Rye City, NY salary info

Superintendent of Montclair schools, Frank Alvarez, announced he would be leaving the district back in early February, but it wasn’t until last week did we learn that it was because he would be taking the Superintendent position at the Rye, NY school district.

Speculation is it’s because of Governor Christie’s Superintendent salary cap, which was put into place last year, that would have cut Alvarez’s $250,000 salary to $175,000 in two years. According to this New York State School Administrator Salary Disclosure document. The salary for Super. in the 2011-2012 school year was $253,623.

We asked Alvarez to speak to us about his time and work in Montclair and why he decided to leave. He responded, “I’ll pass at this time and let the record stand.”


  1. What Fox missed was asking residents what they thought of Alvarez going. Most people I have heard from think it is a good thing. Why do we want to pay more money to person we don’t think is doing a good job?

    If NY wants to throw their taxes out to pay him $275,000 let them. Whoop it up NY just remember you don’t get what you pay for in this game.

  2. I think “because of the NJ salary cap” is but one part of the answer. My understanding (as someone that doesn’t follow this too closely as I don’t live there) is that NY is putting a similar cap in place in the near future. This means that there’s a brief window during which one can move from a NJ job to a NY job w/o falling under the new NY salary cap.

    The NJ cap wouldn’t have any effect on Dr. Alvarez, had he stayed in Montclair, for a couple of years. By then, though, the NY cap could be in place. So in this scenario, he’d have a pre-cap salary only for two more years.

    But if he has a 5 year contract with Rye, he gets to have a pre-cap salary for 5 years as a result of the move.

    This is the type of sound fiscal analysis that we like to see in our superintendents, right?


  3. Don’t forget that Alvarez will be able to collect a nice sizable pension as a NJ retiree in addition to the increased salary he is likely getting in NY (he will be able to collect both simultaneously). When his contract ends in 5 years in NY, he will then be able to retire and collect 2 pensions.

  4. Again with the useful information, agideon, thanks.

    I agree, of course, with everything Holly says, as always (call it a survival instinct). But it would be interesting to know what the folks who have to hire Alvarez’s replacement think of his leaving, and the prospect of hiring someone under the cap.

  5. Alvarez was smart to make this move. And everything I’ve seen of him prior to his making this decision suggests to me that he was a very capable administrator here, and will do a great job in Rye.

    However, Holly K implies above that most people in Montclair would say Alvarez was doing a poor job in Montclair. I’d be curious to hear what in particular she and the people she has spoken with think that he has done badly.

    As I said near the end of another thread over at Bnet, there’s a very good “hard data” case to be made that the teachers and the curricula in the Montclair school system are every bit as good as (arguably better than) those in Glen Ridge—a system that everyone seems to agree is among the very top of the crop in NJ.

    The analysis that leads to this conclusion hinges on what may at first blush appear to be an “un-PC” way of making the case: namely, comparing the NJASK4, NJASK8, and HSPA11 test results from both school districts for only one demographic group: white students.

    Why do I single out white students? Because in making disparaging remarks about the supposed ‘mediocrity’ of the Montclair school system, critics frequently cite Glen Ridge’s school system as the point of comparison, without acknowledging that that school system is almost uniformly populated with high-socio-economic-status (i.e., white) families, whereas in Montclair there is a large population of (very) low-SES families. In north Jersey, the demographic category “white” is a virtual (but by no means absolute) proxy for “high-SES.” So the only way to properly do an apples-to-apples comparison between Glen Ridge and Montclair is to isolate the performance data for the white kids in both systems.

    And when you do that comparison, not only with Glen Ridge, but also with other school districts that commenters frequently cite as “better” than Montclair (such as Millburn and Tenafly—two other ‘high-SES’-concentrated districts), you find, lo and behold, that Montclair’s educational outcomes are on par with—and in the case of Glen Ridge, are consistently better than—those from the much-lauded, NJ-Monthly “Best” schools.

    Here are the data in Google-doc spreadsheets, comparing Montclair with Glen Ridge, Millburn, and Tenafly:

    Glen Ridge:



    I should point out that I believe that there is so much more to a school system than results of standardized tests. But the point here is that, for the people who are most prone to worrying and complaining about the quality of their kids’ schools—high-SES parents and taxpayers—there is solid data to suggest that their kids will be / are getting as solid an education as their demographic peers in Glen Ridge, Millburn, Tenafly, and other widely-praised school systems.

    In my opinion, Alvarez was doing a good job. Good luck to him in Rye.

  6. willjames,

    There is a significant flaw in your conclusion. You are not comparing apples with apples. The NJASK scores for Glen Ridge includes all races. The NJASK scores for Montclair only include the scores of the white students. Obviously, Montclair is more diverse than Glen Ridge (60% to 85% white respectively), but Glen Ridge is not 100% white. Therefore, your theory still remains unproven. Which is good, because I was afraid that I would have to move back.

  7. E.g., Glen Ridge NJASK4, Language Arts, results for white students only vs. Montclair NJASK4, Language Arts, results for white students only, and so on.

    The data set isn’t a rigged deck–I’m comparing demographic apples to apples.

  8. OK, my mistake then. I pulled up the data for NJASK7 for language arts for Glen Ridge and they didn’t break it down by race. My mistake. Interesting results to say the least.

  9. re: Pensions

    To collect a full pension, one must first have served long enough to be vested – meaning you’ve paid in for a certain number of years. In NY it’s ten years. If you retire or leave before then, you get no pension. If you work for say, 12 years, you get a fraction of the pension. If you serve for the full requirement of years, you get a full pension when you reach retirement age. Alvarez is [I’d guess] vested in NJ, but he will probably not be able to receive two full pensions unless he serves in NY for a very long time.

  10. Kristin – I probably should have researched a little more. In NJ you vest for a benefit – certainly not a full pension – after only 5 years. My assumption was that NY was similar. I have a relative that retired with a full pension from the NYS teacher system and then came to teach in NJ for 5 years. After 5 years, he retired from his NJ teaching position and managed to earn a pension of $8k/year after only 5 years of service. He did collect his NYS pension while collecting his NJ salary.

    At a $250k+ salary in NY, even after 5-10 years, while not a full pension, Alvarez likely stands to vest for a not insignificant retirement benefit from NY. This will be in addition to the 6 figure pension he will collect from the state of NJ. And he wil, collect that 6 figure NJ pension while working full time in NY.

    Christie’s cap did not chase him out of Montclair this year. He had 2 more years in NJ before his pay would be cut. But jumping across the border this year gets him what essentially amounts to a 50% raise in his take home pay.

    Frank’s just looking out for himself. Can’t blame him for that.

  11. Thanks for the info, njgator. Maybe I should think about getting certified for NJ after all. Five years is just a blink of an eye. 😉

Comments are closed.