On appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court, whose opinion is reported in 129 N.J.L. 46.
For the appellant, Meyer L. Sakin.
For the respondent, Gene R. Mariano.
For New Jersey Education Association, amicus curioe, Eisenberg & Spicer (Jerome C. Eisenberg, of counsel).
For State Federation of District Boards of Education of the State of New Jersey, amicus curioe, Harold D. Green and Saul R. Alexander.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
HEHER, J. We are in accord with the reasoning and result of the deliverance of Mr. Justice Porter for the Supreme Court.
It is vigorously contended that the judgment is "directly opposed to public policy." Such policy must needs be of legislative ordination; it can have no other derivation. And there is none such. Section 1 of chapter 243 of the laws of 1909, now sections 18:13-16 and 18:13-17 of the Revision of 1937, conferred upon teachers and principals in the appointed category a mere "legislative status," subject to legislative alteration and annulment, and did not give rise to an irrepealable "legislative contract." Under the subsisting school law, the district board is not bound by contract with the teacher having tenure in virtue of the cited statutory provisions "for more than the current year." Section 18:13-17, supra, enjoining the local boards from reducing the teacher's salary or discharging him without cause, is "but a regulation of
the conduct of the board and not a term of a continuing contract of indefinite duration with the individual teacher." Phelps v. Board of Education, 115 N.J.L. 310; affirmed, 116 Id. 412; affirmed, 300 U.S. 319; 57 S. Ct. 483; 81 L. Ed. 674. See, also, Vroom v. Board of Education, 79 N.J.L. 46; Steck v. Board of Education, 123 Id. 158; affirmed, 124 Id. 132.
Conceding the power of the legislature in the premises, the argument is made that the district board's establishment of a salary schedule providing for annual increments is a conclusive and irrepealable act. The delegated legislative function is not thus circumscribed.
The local boards are not under a statutory duty to lay down a schedule of salary increments. Indeed, increments as such have no statutory recognition. That is a device of local policy adopted in the exercise of the granted general managerial power. Section 106 of the General School Law of 1903 invested these local agencies with authority to "make rules and regulations governing the engagement and employment of teachers and principals, the terms and tenure of such employment, and the promotion and dismissal of such teachers and principals, the salaries and the time and mode of payment thereof," and "from time to time" to "change, amend or repeal such rules and regulations." Pamph. L. 1903 (2 d Sp. Sess.) pp. 5, 42; Comp. State., p. 4762; R.S. 1937, 18:13-5. This local regulation of teachers' salaries is subject to a minimum requirement of $100 per month, for each and every month during the school year, when employed. R.S. 18:13-13. The salary schedule upon which appellant's claim is founded was enacted as "a rule of the board" in the exercise of this function; and it contained an express reservation of the power of amendment and repeal.
True, the right of revision and repeal is subject to the injunction against "a reduction of salary" except for just cause, embodied in section 1 of the act of 1909, supra, now R.S. 1937, 18:13-17. But unaccrued increments under a salary schedule adopted pursuant to section 106 of the General School Law of 1903, supra, do not take ...