Educators’ Pensions Posted Online

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CONTACT: Tim Hoefer

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More than 1,200 retired New York State school teachers and administrators are entitled to annual pensions of more than $100,000, according to pension data posted today on www.SeeThroughNY.net, the government transparency website. The database from the New York State Teachers Retirement System (NYSTRS) includes name, benefit rate, retirement date and last known employer when available, for 136,644 people collecting pensions in 2010.

The highest pension benefit last year went to James Hunderfund, who retired in 2006 as the Superintendent of the Commack School District on Long Island with a maximum benefit of $316,245. Additionally, Hunderfund serves as the Superintendent of the Malverne School District, his contract there — also available on www.SeeThroughNY.net — stipulates that he earn no less than $225,000 annually through June 30, 2011. Other notable NYSTRS pensioners include Frank Tassone, the former superintendent of the Roslyn School District, who ranked 38th in 2010 with a maximum allowable benefit of $174,251. Tassone recently served a prison term after admitting he took part in the theft of $2 million from the school district.

A total of 1,255 retired educators were entitled to pensions with an annualized value of at least $100,000 in 2010. These included:

2 people with a benefit between $250,000 and $300,000;

13 people with a benefit between $200,000 and $250,000;

72 people with a benefit between $150,000 and $200,000; and

1,167 people with a benefit between $100,000 and $150,000.

NYSTRS pensions in 2010 totaled over $5 billion. The average for all retirees was $38,924. The average pension for educators retiring in 2010 was $52,270.

A table listing the 100 highest-paid pensioners in 2010 is available here. (Note that the “maximum annual pension” reflects the maximum benefit to which a retiree is entitled, but not necessarily the amount he or she actually collected during the past year. Some retirees began collecting benefits mid-year, or may have chosen to collect a lower monthly benefit in order to preserve a larger death benefit for their beneficiaries.)

SeeThroughNY allows the public to examine government expenditures on the Internet. In addition to pensions for nearly every retired New York state and local retiree, it includes payrolls for New York State and New York City government, counties, municipalities and school districts throughout the state, and dozens of public authorities. Also posted are pork barrel “member item” spending; state legislator office expenditures, and a benchmarking feature for comparing local government and school district spending. The site was launched July 31, 2008.

The Albany-based Empire Center is a project of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, one of the nation’s leading non-profit 501(c)3 think tanks.