Sean Lahman and Joseph Spector

ALBANY – Salaries for public school educators rose in New York for the eighth straight year while the number working continued to decline, new records showed.

What was the average teacher salary

The average salary for educators in 2018-19 school year in New York was $67,892, a 2.8% increase from the previous year and 22% higher than 2010, the data reviewed by the USA TODAY Network New York showed.

Number of educators in New York fell

While salaries rose, the total number of educators dropped from roughly 260,000 to 245,000 over the same time period, a nearly 6% drop, according to the records obtained from the New York Teachers Retirement System.

That’s part of an ongoing issue for New York: It is having difficulty filling teaching jobs as fewer people go into the profession. But at the same time, enrollment in down in New York, particularly upstate.

Top teacher salaries rose

Salaries at the high end continued to grow, with more than 60,000 individuals earning more than $100,000 last year.

That’s a 50% percent increase compared to 2010.

Nearly 25% of all educators statewide topped the $100,000 mark in 2018-19 school year, which ended June 30.

Top earners in New York

Michael Ring, the former superintendent of the Rocky Point school district on Long Island, was the highest paid educator in the state during the 2018-19 school year.

Records indicate he was paid $547,049 before he retired last summer.

Another Long Island school district, Central Islip, accounted for 17 of the 25 highest-paid educators in the state.

Top earners locally

In Chemung County, the top three public-school earners last year were three superintendents (the data does include some college workers):

  • $206,346 for Thomas Douglas of Horseheads Central Schools
  • $194,361 for Hillary Austin of the Elmira City School District
  • $187,767 for Mary Beth Fiore of Elmira Heights Central Schools

Regional differences among New York teachers

Out of the 59,241 educators in the retirement system earning six-figure pay last year, 87% were employed in downstate suburban districtsaccording to a review by the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany.

About 54% of the highest-paid educators were on Long Island and 20% were based in Westchester and Putnam counties.

In upstate New York district — those in the 50 counties north of the mid-Hudson —teachers and educators earning $100,000 or more comprised of just 4% of the total public school staff, the Empire Center said.

Teachers union responds to salaries

The New York State United Teachers union said the salaries are commensurate with educators’ experience. Union contracts are negotiated locally with each school district.

“New York’s teachers are dedicated to ensuring that our children receive a high-quality public education,” said the union’s spokesman Matt Hamilton.

“NYSUT is proud to support hundreds of thousands of educators who deserve fair pay and benefits that reflect their hard work and high levels of expertise and education.”

© 2019 Democrat and Chronicle

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.