Employees in Long Island's public schools remained at the top among nine regions statewide, with an average salary of $73,949 in 2011-12, according to a report released Tuesday that examined compensation in New York school districts outside of New York City.
The Empire Center for New York State Policy, a conservative arm of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, produced the rankings and created a searchable online database of more than 366,640 employees at SeeThroughNY.net. The database includes pay for administrators, teachers and others for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2012, as reported to the state teachers retirement system.
Of the 50 highest-paid school employees statewide, 30 were on the Island, including nine of the top 10. Most at the top were district superintendents or high-ranking administrators.
Rockville Centre school officials referred to a news release issued when Johnson, the district's top administrator for more than 25 years, signed a new contract in 2011 that said the board provided him no salary increase but early access to $300,000 in retirement funds due from his previous contract.
"The board is aware of concerns regarding superintendent compensation and other benefits," the release read. "With this in mind, the Board of Education and Dr. Johnson have agreed on a new four-year contract with no increase in salary over the term of the agreement and a higher employee contribution rate for his health-care benefit."
School officials said the agreement would save the district more than $187,000.
Also in the top 10 -- in second place -- was Syosset superintendent Carole Hankin, earning $506,015. Hankin, who was hired by the district in late 1975, had been the state's top-paid school official for several years.
The state's largest teacher union called the report poorly timed. Since superstorm Sandy, teachers statewide have organized relief efforts, and New York State United Teachers officials estimate that 300 to 500 school employees' homes were destroyed or severely damaged.
"How tone-deaf are they? At a time when Long Island teachers are pulling together making sure their students and families have clothing and food and electricity and a safe haven, the Empire Center puts out a divisive report that tries to score political points," NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said.
Employees in Scarsdale schools had the highest average pay for the third straight year, at $115,659, followed by Bronxville, Jericho and Byram Hills, all with average salaries above $100,000.More than half of the top 50 school districts with the highest average pay were on Long Island, according to the Empire Center report.
The database also includes individual pay for school employees such as custodians, aides and bus drivers for the 12-month period ending March 12, 2012, as reported to the New York State Employees Retirement System.