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The average salaries for New Jersey's public school teachers and administrators rose again last year, a possible sign that the mass exodus of experienced staff earlier this decade has slowed.
In 2016-2017, the average salary for teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, and other non-administrative staff totaled $70,637, according to an NJ Spotlight analysis of salary data for nearly all public school districts and charter schools — about 139,000 professional employees. That was about 1.5 percent higher than the previous year.
The average administrator’s salary rose by the same amount between 2015-2016 and last year, to $121,476.
For teachers, the average increase was slightly higher than the 1 percent rise between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016; for administrators, it was just a tad lower than the 1.6 percent increase during that period.
Typically, salary averages rise every year, but they had declined earlier this decade because experienced educators had chosen to retire in larger numbers than usual after they were forced to make higher health-benefit contributions as a result of the pension and health benefits reform law Gov. Chris Christie enacted the year after taking office.
As usual, last year’s statewide salary data provided by the Department of Education shows the lowest salaries for teachers and other nonadministrative staff tend to be found in charter schools and small, elementary school districts. West Cape May, the state’s southernmost district with 81 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 6, had the lowest: Its 14 teachers made an average of $40,060 in 2016-2017.
The highest salaries are generally in regional high school and vocational districts, as well as in some K-12s. Northern Valley Regional in Bergen County topped all districts again. Approaching $100,000, Northern Valley’s average salary for nonadministrative professional staff was $97,754. Only two other districts, Palisades Park, also in Bergen County, and Passaic County Vocational, had average salaries topping $90,000.
Those patterns tend to hold true for administrators, as well, although last year, the highest average administrator’s salary was in a charter school. Englewood on the Palisades Charter School’s two administrators — a business administrator and a principal — received an average salary of $168,141. Nine other districts also paid their supervisory personnel and central office staff more than $150,000 on average.
The actual amounts staff received are likely higher, as the data is derived from the DOE's Certificated Staff salary database, which reports 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 is incomplete and does not include any information for six small districts: South Hackensack, Union Beach, Rockaway, Franklin Borough in Sussex, Garwood, and Franklin Township in Warren. It also likely contains errors because the DOE does not check it for accuracy. Still, it is the most complete picture of salaries released by the department.
The database represents salaries paid as of October 15, 2016; any raises given after that date, due to negotiated contracts, are not included.
See average data for all districts and charter schools in the map andfor salary and other data for almost 9,200 public school administrators and about 130,000 teachers and other professional nonadministrative staff who worked in the state last year.