Last week, the New Jersey Department of Education released its database of school salaries. This has become an annual rite, usually at the end of or soon after the end of the school year.
The information includes years of experience, educational degrees, job titles and, of course, the salary for every professional public school employee in the state. That means teachers, principals, superintendents, librarians, guidance counselors and others.
It provides fodder for news stories.
It gives citizens specifics about how tax dollars are being spent.
And it ticks off more than a few educators who are appalled that their salaries are being publicized for their neighbors, friends and all the world to see.
Used to be, pre-Internet, newspapers would print the salaries of the highest paid employees in, or along with, a story.
Now, all the salaries wind up online fairly quickly in searchable databases. It’s not uncommon for a Google search for a public educator to turn up the salary information from one of these databases.
More than one school worker has complained this is an invasion of privacy. The topic even came up recently on a journalism discussion list, with reporters arguing both sides of the issue.
But there’s really nothing to discuss. As long as public tax dollars are paying the salaries, they need to be public.
The universal taunt by those who dislike having the world know how much they earn at those in the press who post the salaries is this: You should put your own salary on the Internet or in the paper.
Sure, as soon as the government uses tax dollars to support journalists’ salaries (and in order to keep a viable Fourth Estate, this day may be coming). Note: Patch will be publishing lists of salaries for public school educators shortly; a breakdown of average salaries in nearby towns is below.
As an aside, most of those in schools also don’t know that the vast majority of local news reporters in New Jersey make far less than even the average teacher.
That average for the 2010-11 school year was $65,872 in Somerset County, $68,329 in Morris, $69,382 in Sussex and almost $70,000 in Passaic. The average administrator makes a third to a half more. Almost 100 got more than $200,000 in salary alone with the highest paid, the superintendents in Newark and Cherry Hill, getting $275,000.
Equally interesting, the average salary paid to a new, non-tenured teacher in his first, second, or third year of teaching—usually no more than a few years out of college—was $49,461 in New Jersey this past year. Bridgewater-Raritan, Butler, the Chathams, Morris Plains, Montville, Parsippany, Warren Township, Washington Township all paid a brand new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience more than $50,000. Unless there is a mistake (and occasionally the database has errors), an alternate route computer teacher with a bachelor’s degree at Morristown High School received more than $71,000 in his or her first year of teaching this past year.
This is all important information to know.
We have an open system of democracy. We are all supposed to be involved in our governments, although most people sadly do little more than gripe over the backyard fence about how high their taxes are.
And so we should have access to as much information as possible about how government operates and spends our money.
Once you know the averages and some of these details, and what others in comparably sized districts with about the same amount of experience earn, you can have an intelligent discussion about salaries, including who deserves a raise and who is being overpaid.
New Jersey does not have the best public records law—if you live in Florida, your life is a virtual open book—but the release of education salaries is one area in which the state gets it right.
So take advantage of the data and use it to become at least better informed but, hopefully, a better citizen.
Average Teacher Salaries in Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Passaic counties:
|District Name||Average Teacher Salary
|BOUND BROOK BOROUGH||$60,518|
|EAST HANOVER TOWNSHIP||$68,781|
|EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION OF MORRIS COUNTY||$58,478|
|GREEN BROOK TOWNSHIP||$55,219|
|HANOVER PARK REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT||$68,548|
|HIGH POINT REGIONAL||$75,997|
|LENAPE VALLEY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT||$71,995|
|LINCOLN PARK BOROUGH||$69,957|
|LITTLE FALLS TOWNSHIP||$64,711|
|LONG HILL TOWNSHIP||$61,590|
|MINE HILL TOWNSHIP||$58,607|
|MORRIS COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$71,400|
|MORRIS HILLS REGIONAL||$75,611|
|MORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT||$75,349|
|MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP||$68,194|
|NORTH PLAINFIELD BOROUGH||$62,372|
|PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS TOWNSHIP||$72,149|
|PASSAIC COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION||$52,863|
|PASSAIC COUNTY MANCHESTER REGIONAL||$69,633|
|PASSAIC COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$77,705|
|PASSAIC VALLEY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT #1||$70,341|
|SCH DIST OF THE CHATHAMS||$67,699|
|SOMERSET COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION||$61,830|
|SOMERSET COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$66,963|
|SOMERSET HILLS REGIONAL||$73,911|
|SOUTH BOUND BROOK BOROUGH||$63,617|
|SUSSEX COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION||$43,495|
|SUSSEX COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$67,709|
|WALLKILL VALLEY REGIONAL||$81,578|
|WATCHUNG HILLS REGIONAL||$71,965|
|WEST MILFORD TOWNSHIP||$74,911|
|WEST MORRIS REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT||$71,053|
Average Administrator Salaries in Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Passaic Counties:
| District Name
|| Average Salary
|BOUND BROOK BOROUGH||$124,628|
|EAST HANOVER TOWNSHIP||$119,952|
|EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION OF MORRIS COUNTY||$119,288|
|GREEN BROOK TOWNSHIP||$141,483|
|HANOVER PARK REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT||$136,724|
|HIGH POINT REGIONAL||$112,912|
|LENAPE VALLEY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT||$116,792|
|LINCOLN PARK BOROUGH||$120,618|
|LITTLE FALLS TOWNSHIP||$120,101|
|LONG HILL TOWNSHIP||$117,961|
|MINE HILL TOWNSHIP||$85,967|
|MORRIS COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$131,906|
|MORRIS HILLS REGIONAL||$149,002|
|MORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT||$129,971|
|MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP||$126,120|
|NORTH PLAINFIELD BOROUGH||$140,598|
|PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS TOWNSHIP||$123,218|
|PASSAIC COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION||$70,509|
|PASSAIC COUNTY MANCHESTER REGIONAL||$124,257|
|PASSAIC COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$135,706|
|PASSAIC VALLEY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT #1||$119,998|
|SCH DIST OF THE CHATHAMS||$129,485|
|SOMERSET COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION||$133,548|
|SOMERSET COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$115,977|
|SOMERSET HILLS REGIONAL||$131,222|
|SOUTH BOUND BROOK BOROUGH||$111,203|
|SUSSEX COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION||$89,000|
|SUSSEX COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$113,387|
|WALLKILL VALLEY REGIONAL||$119,515|
|WATCHUNG HILLS REGIONAL||$132,277|
|WEST MILFORD TOWNSHIP||$123,283|
|WEST MORRIS REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT||$155,762|
Colleen O'Dea is a writer, editor, researcher, data analyst, web page designer and mapper with almost three decades in the news business. Her column appears Mondays.