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
ANDOVER REGIONAL $65,918 BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP $65,607 BERNARDS TOWNSHIP $62,822 BLOOMINGDALE $65,996 BOONTON TOWN $63,050 BOONTON TOWNSHIP $69,656 BOUND BROOK BOROUGH $60,518 BRANCHBURG TOWNSHIP $63,815 BRIDGEWATER-RARITAN REGIONAL $66,969 BUTLER $65,714 BYRAM TOWNSHIP $62,876 CHESTER TOWNSHIP $61,725 CLIFTON $64,345 DENVILLE TOWNSHIP $61,735 DOVER TOWN $66,428 EAST HANOVER TOWNSHIP $68,781 EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION OF MORRIS COUNTY $58,478 FLORHAM PARK $58,899 FRANKFORD TOWNSHIP $69,328 FRANKLIN BOROUGH $61,911 FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP $66,183 FREDON TOWNSHIP $57,945 GREEN BROOK TOWNSHIP $55,219 GREEN TOWNSHIP $67,774 HALEDON $61,473 HAMBURG BOROUGH $60,244 HAMPTON TOWNSHIP $67,285 HANOVER PARK REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT $68,548 HANOVER TOWNSHIP $67,036 HARDING TOWNSHIP $57,605 HARDYSTON TOWNSHIP $65,489 HAWTHORNE $63,233 HIGH POINT REGIONAL $75,997 HILLSBOROUGH TOWNSHIP $68,492 HOPATCONG BOROUGH $73,044 JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP $64,162 KINNELON BOROUGH $72,759 KITTATINNY REGIONAL $73,347 LAFAYETTE TOWNSHIP $52,790 LAKELAND REGIONAL $76,798 LENAPE VALLEY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT $71,995 LINCOLN PARK BOROUGH $69,957 LITTLE FALLS TOWNSHIP $64,711 LONG HILL TOWNSHIP $61,590 MADISON $69,550 MANVILLE BOROUGH $55,696 MENDHAM BOROUGH $59,969 MENDHAM TOWNSHIP $65,380 MINE HILL TOWNSHIP $58,607 MONTAGUE $59,980 MONTGOMERY TOWNSHIP $65,531 MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP $69,355 MORRIS COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT $71,400 MORRIS HILLS REGIONAL $75,611 MORRIS PLAINS $62,767 MORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT $75,349 MOUNT ARLINGTON $59,981 MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP $68,194 MOUNTAIN LAKES $72,116 NETCONG $66,566 NEWTON $66,494 NORTH HALEDON $63,843 NORTH PLAINFIELD BOROUGH $62,372 OGDENSBURG BOROUGH $54,645 PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS TOWNSHIP $72,149 PASSAIC CITY $75,600 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 PATERSON $68,716 PEQUANNOCK TOWNSHIP $65,252 POMPTON LAKES $69,183 PROSPECT PARK $64,471 RANDOLPH TOWNSHIP $68,419 RINGWOOD $66,272 RIVERDALE $49,192 ROCKAWAY BOROUGH $57,320 ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP $67,755 ROXBURY TOWNSHIP $69,766 SANDYSTON-WALPACK TOWNSHIP $51,663 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 SOMERVILLE BOROUGH $70,792 SOUTH BOUND BROOK BOROUGH $63,617 SPARTA TOWNSHIP $73,246 STANHOPE BOROUGH $59,966 STILLWATER TOWNSHIP $66,454 SUSSEX COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION $43,495 SUSSEX COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT $67,709 SUSSEX-WANTAGE REGIONAL $65,971 TOTOWA $67,866 VERNON TOWNSHIP $74,631 WALLKILL VALLEY REGIONAL $81,578 WANAQUE $73,216 WARREN TOWNSHIP $66,429 WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP $68,442 WATCHUNG BOROUGH $60,593 WATCHUNG HILLS REGIONAL $71,965 WAYNE TOWNSHIP $72,145 WEST MILFORD TOWNSHIP $74,911 WEST MORRIS REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT $71,053 WHARTON BOROUGH $62,420 WOODLAND PARK $64,964
Average Administrator Salaries in Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Passaic Counties:District Name
ANDOVER REGIONAL $114,565 BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP $117,845 BERNARDS TOWNSHIP $125,251 BLOOMINGDALE $129,997 BOONTON TOWN $127,829 BOONTON TOWNSHIP $117,118 BOUND BROOK BOROUGH $124,628 BRANCHBURG TOWNSHIP $133,193 BRIDGEWATER-RARITAN REGIONAL $134,384 BUTLER $123,692 BYRAM TOWNSHIP $106,932 CHESTER TOWNSHIP $126,803 CLIFTON $119,081 DENVILLE TOWNSHIP $113,795 DOVER TOWN $111,994 EAST HANOVER TOWNSHIP $119,952 EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION OF MORRIS COUNTY $119,288 FLORHAM PARK $132,819 FRANKFORD TOWNSHIP $108,033 FRANKLIN BOROUGH $122,247 FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP $111,300 FREDON TOWNSHIP $103,375 GREEN BROOK TOWNSHIP $141,483 GREEN TOWNSHIP $89,128 HALEDON $112,901 HAMBURG BOROUGH $96,250 HAMPTON TOWNSHIP $121,425 HANOVER PARK REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT $136,724 HANOVER TOWNSHIP $126,429 HARDING TOWNSHIP $121,780 HARDYSTON TOWNSHIP $101,875 HAWTHORNE $125,165 HIGH POINT REGIONAL $112,912 HILLSBOROUGH TOWNSHIP $119,855 HOPATCONG BOROUGH $122,261 JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP $122,237 KINNELON BOROUGH $133,045 KITTATINNY REGIONAL $108,736 LAFAYETTE TOWNSHIP $94,747 LAKELAND REGIONAL $126,223 LENAPE VALLEY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT $116,792 LINCOLN PARK BOROUGH $120,618 LITTLE FALLS TOWNSHIP $120,101 LONG HILL TOWNSHIP $117,961 MADISON $124,079 MANVILLE BOROUGH $123,620 MENDHAM BOROUGH $138,836 MENDHAM TOWNSHIP $127,225 MINE HILL TOWNSHIP $85,967 MONTAGUE $99,216 MONTGOMERY TOWNSHIP $121,261 MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP $136,031 MORRIS COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT $131,906 MORRIS HILLS REGIONAL $149,002 MORRIS PLAINS $115,633 MORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT $129,971 MOUNT ARLINGTON $114,510 MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP $126,120 MOUNTAIN LAKES $136,953 NETCONG $65,250 NEWTON $123,010 NORTH HALEDON $115,375 NORTH PLAINFIELD BOROUGH $140,598 OGDENSBURG BOROUGH $89,180 PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS TOWNSHIP $123,218 PASSAIC CITY $126,992 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 PATERSON $107,259 PEQUANNOCK TOWNSHIP $129,854 POMPTON LAKES $139,057 PROSPECT PARK $135,862 RANDOLPH TOWNSHIP $129,104 RINGWOOD $103,384 RIVERDALE $127,735 ROCKAWAY BOROUGH $112,254 ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP $140,885 ROXBURY TOWNSHIP $118,603 SANDYSTON-WALPACK TOWNSHIP $105,000 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 SOMERVILLE BOROUGH $123,780 SOUTH BOUND BROOK BOROUGH $111,203 SPARTA TOWNSHIP $124,640 STANHOPE BOROUGH $105,074 STILLWATER TOWNSHIP $115,848 SUSSEX COUNTY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES COMMISSION $89,000 SUSSEX COUNTY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT $113,387 SUSSEX-WANTAGE REGIONAL $112,454 TOTOWA $122,563 VERNON TOWNSHIP $122,523 WALLKILL VALLEY REGIONAL $119,515 WANAQUE $147,021 WARREN TOWNSHIP $130,452 WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP $118,176 WATCHUNG BOROUGH $135,734 WATCHUNG HILLS REGIONAL $132,277 WAYNE TOWNSHIP $133,695 WEST MILFORD TOWNSHIP $123,283 WEST MORRIS REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT $155,762 WHARTON BOROUGH $108,609 WOODLAND PARK $128,404
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.