After dropping briefly, the average salaries for New Jersey's public school teachers and administrators are again rising.
In the last school year, the average salary for teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, and other non-administrative staff reached $69,416, an NJ Spotlight analysis of salary data for more than 140,000 professional school employees found. That was almost 1 percent higher than in 2014-15 and 1.6 percent higher than in the previous year.
The average administrator received $119,634 in the 2015-16 school year, 1.6 percent more than a year earlier and 2.1 percent more than in 2013-14.
Typically, salary averages inch up every year, but they had declined earlier this decade due to large numbers of experienced educators choosing to retire due to aging and to the higher health-benefit contributions that teachers are required to make as a result of the pension and health benefits reform law Gov. Chris Christie enacted the year after taking office.
Statewide salary data, provided by the state Department of Education, shows the lowest salaries for teachers and other non-administrative staff tend to be found in charter schools and small, elementary grade-only districts, although the lowest average was $33,957 in the Monmouth-Ocean Educational Services Commission. The highest salaries were generally in regional high school and vocational districts, as well as in some K-12s, with Northern Valley Regional in Bergen County topping all with an average of $91,905, the only district with an average teacher salary surpassing $90,000.
Those patterns hold true for administrators, as well. Hudson County Vocational's 19 administrators averaged salaries of $158,107, the most in the state. Seven other districts -- Ridgewood, Passaic County Vocational, Morris Hills Regional, Pohatcong, Northern Valley, River Dell Regional and Harrison -- also paid their supervisory personnel and central office staff more than $150,000 on average.
The actual amounts staff received is likely higher, as the data were derived from the DOE's Certificated Staff salary database, which is designed to report base salaries. It does not necessarily include stipends for extra work, bonuses, and compensation for unused sick days. However, because the data is reported by district officials, it sometimes does include total compensation. It may also be incomplete and contain errors. Still, it is the most complete picture of salaries released by the DOE.
It represents salaries paid as of Oct. 15, 2015; any raises given after that date, due to negotiated contracts, are not included.
With the new school year now underway virtually everywhere, the New Jersey School Boards Association reported that almost a quarter of districts, or 141, are in the midst of contract negotiations. In districts where a contract has expired, staff continue to receive the same salary and benefits as they did under their prior deal.
Contractual raises to date are at their highest level since 2011-12. The statewide settlement rate, or average raise, under 2016-2017 contracts is 2.62 percent, according to the NJSBA. That's higher than last year’s average salary increase of 2.57 percent and just below the 2.67 percent negotiated for 2011-12.
to search a database that includes salary and other data for almost 9,200 public school administrators and nearly 135,000 teachers and other professional nonadministrative staff who worked in the state last year.