School Payrolls Grew in 2008-09, Online Data Show

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CONTACT: Lise Bang-Jensen

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Professional payrolls continued expanding in New York State school districts outside New York City last year, according to data posted today on www.SeeThroughNY.net, the government transparency website sponsored by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Total spending on teaching and administrative salaries by districts outside New York City increased 5 percent statewide to $14 billion–a $670 million annual increase–in the 2008-09 school year. This included a 19 percent jump in the number of teachers and administrators making $100,000 or more. An additional 5,022 school employees crossed the six-figure salary benchmark in 2008-09, raising the total number in that category to 32,064 from 27,042 in 2007-08.

The 2008-09 database includes the gross pay of 262,088 teachers and administrators, 8,501 more than the 253,587 listed during the 2007-08 school year. These numbers include tens of thousands of substitute teachers and other part-time employees.

The Empire Center obtained the data by filing a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, which administers pension benefits for public school teachers and administrators outside of New York City. The City’s public school employees are included in a separate fiscal 2008 city payroll on SeeThroughNY.

Not reflected in the data are costs of pensions, health insurance for employees and retirees, and other benefits. Employee salaries and benefits comprise about 70 percent of a typical school budget.

Users of SeeThroughNY can search or sort the database by name, school district and salary level. Search results can be downloaded on an Excel spreadsheet or CSV (Comma Separated Values) file. The site also includes payroll data for 121,961 school custodians, bus drivers, aides and other non-professional school employees, which was posted in October 2009. A chart with regional breakdowns of educators making $100,000 or more is here.

SeeThroughNY allows the public to examine government expenditures on the Internet. It includes the wages of more than 1.5 million employees of New York State government, public authorities, cities, counties, villages, towns and school districts. Also posted are teacher and school superintendent employment contracts for 733 school districts, state legislators’ office expenditures, pork barrel projects, 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 non-partisan, independent think tank.