ALBANY – The average salary for New York educators was about $62,000 last school year, but the ranks continue to decline as more people retire from the public-education system, records show.
The average salary of $62,205 in the 2015-16 school year was a 3.3 percent increase over the previous year and up 12 percent over the past five years, a review of records by the USA Today Network’s Albany Bureau showed.
At the same time, the number of educators in New York is still dropping: down 5 percent, or more than 7,000 positions since the 2011-12 school year, according to the data from the state Teachers’ Retirement System.
The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, come as New York education leaders are gearing up for a battle over school aid next year amid lowered estimates for state revenue.
The state Board of Regents’ committee on Tuesday said it plans to recommend next month that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature commit to a three-year increase of $3.8 billion in school aid.
“This will allow districts to plan for the effective expenditure of the additional funds to improve instruction,” the committee said in its report.
In the current fiscal year, the state increased aid to the state’s nearly 700 districts by $1.5 billion, a 6.5 percent increase, to nearly $25 billion – by far the most per capita in the nation.
Cuomo will introduce his 2017-18 state budget in January for the fiscal year that starts April 1. The state is estimating its personal-income-tax revenue will be about $1.2 billion less originally anticipated.
The salary figures point to an aging teacher and educator staff in New York, which has led to more experienced workers earning higher salaries, school officials said.
The number of retirees in the system is up 14 percent since 2010: from 141,716 to 161,148.
The data also shows what is expected to be a teacher shortage in New York: Education officials estimate the state will be short about 1.6 million teachers over the next decade.
“As New York and the nation face a massive teacher shortage, there is no time to waste,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said in May when SUNY and the state Education Department launched a new teacher-recruitment initiative.
Sixty-one percent of active educators in New York are older than 40, according to the retirement system’s annual report this month.
“New York has a veteran teaching force, and that is reflected in the salaries,” Korn said.
As a result, the number of educators earning $100,000 or more grew -- up 5 percent in one year and 33 percent over five years.
Nearly 53,000 educators earned more than $100,000 a year in the 2015-16 school year, which ended June 30. So that’s one-in-five educators who had gross pay of $100,00 or more.
In the 2010-11 school year, fewer than 40,000 earned six-figure salaries.
Overall, the system had 247,950 active members who earned a full or part-time salary last school year, compared to 254,669 on the payroll five years ago.
“Once again, the data shows that while most teachers are paid fairly, many earn far less than they should,” Korn said.
“Teachers are required to have a master’s degree, and many are approaching two decades of experience in the classroom.”
The data also shows wide variances in salary by region, which can skew the statewide averages, Korn pointed out.
It also includes some college administrators enrolled in the Teachers Retirement System – including the top three listed on the payroll, who are all employed at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.
The top four highest paid public-school educators last year were on Long Island, led by Peter Scordo, who is now the retired superintendent in the Elwood School District. He earned nearly $386,000 last year.
Fifth on the list was Harrison Superintendent Louis Wool, who earned $364,590 last school year at the Westchester County district, the records showed.
Westchester had the highest average educator salary at $92,550, followed by $89,500 in Putnam County; $87,000 in Nassau County; and $83,000 in Rockland County.
The average was $68,000 in Dutchess County and $52,500 in Monroe County.
In the Southern Tier, the average was about $50,000 in Chemung, Broome and Tompkins counties.
Check latest school salaries
The database below shows the gross pay for roughly 250,000 educators at public schools in New York state during the 2015-16 school year, as reported by the New York State Teachers Retirement System.