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As New Jersey’s economy continued to improve over the last year, the average salaries for New Jersey's public-school teachers and administrators rose at the highest rate in several years.
In 2017-2018, the average salary for teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, and other non-administrative staff was about $72,102, according to an NJ Spotlight analysis of salary data for more than 145,000 professional employees in nearly all public-school districts and charter schools. That was 2.1 percent higher than the previous year.
The average administrator’s salary rose by a slightly higher percentage — 2.5 percent — to $124,522. That includes salaries for superintendents and chief school administrators. Not every district reported a salary for a superintendent or interim superintendent; the data reflect salaries as of October 15, 2017 and some districts may have been between chief administrators on that date. Of those that did, the average district paid $158,910, which could include the salary of a superintendent, an interim leader or both.
For teachers and administrators, this year was the first since early this decade that average salaries rose by more than 2 percent. Salaries had been increasing over the last few years by between 1 percent and 2 percent and prior to that, they had been declining. That was in part due to lower raises negotiated because of the continuing effects of the recession. And it was partly because senior staff chose to retire in large numbers after being forced to make higher health-benefit contributions as a result of the pension and health benefits reform law former Gov. Chris Christie enacted in 2011.
School districts have been awarding larger salary increases to teachers in recent years, said Frank Belluscio, deputy executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. He said the average salary increase for 2017-2018 contracts was 2.83 percent. For 2018-2019 contracts, it is 2.9 percent.
“For contracts settled since January 2018, the average increase is 3.06 percent,” Belluscio said. “Settlement rates have been increasing slowly, but steadily, since 2014-15” when the rate was 2.47 percent.
He added that health benefits continue to be “the major issue at the bargaining table,” with 48 percent of contracts for the current year containing some cost-containment provisions. The most prevalent change involves switching to a lower-premium plan with a higher deductible, a higher co-pay or both.
There are wide variations in salary among school districts, by type and location, throughout the state, with regional high schools and those in the northeast tending to pay the most and charter schools and special districts for disabled students tending to pay the least.
Teachers and other non-administrative professionals inched closer to a $100,000 average salary in Northern Valley Regional, which has about 2,500 students in two high schools in Bergen County. The district, which had a non-administrative staff of 307, had the highest average salary again this year — $99,467, about 1.8 percent higher than in 2016-2017. Passaic County Vocational and Pascack Valley Regional also had average salaries of more than $90,000.
Teachers and other non-administrative professional staff at charter schools and some educational services commissions that serve disabled students continue to have the lowest average salaries, according to data provided by the state Department of Education. Of traditional districts, the single-school Milford elementary district in Hunterdon County had the lowest average salary: Its 16 teachers received an average salary of about $49,200 last year.
Average administrator salaries ranged from a high of $168,505 for 19 supervisors at Hudson County Vocational to a low of $40,428 for two administrators at Discovery Charter School in Newark. The average administrator’s salary topped $150,000 in 19 districts around the state.
These average salaries, and the ones contained in the DOE Certificated Staff database, are usually base salaries. The actual amounts received by many staff members are likely higher when stipends for extra work, bonuses, compensation for unused sick days and other additional pay is included. It’s impossible to know, however, because the data is reported by district officials and may sometimes represent total compensation. It is also incomplete and may not include all information for some districts. It may also contain errors because the DOE does not check it for accuracy. Still, it is the most complete picture of salaries released by the department.
See average data for all districts and charter schools in the map and table and search the database for salary and other data for more than 9,200 public school administrators and some 136,000 teachers and other professional non-administrative staff who worked in the state last year.
AVERAGE SCHOOL PROFESSIONAL SALARIES AND EXPERIENCE