ELIZABETH – City Council members have been critical of public spending for Elizabeth’s school system, with some going so far as to campaign against the school budget this year, but evidence suggests that the Board of Education has been more frugal than City Hall.
A review of 2009 salaries showed that 150 of 1,178 city employees are paid in excess of $100,000, while just 133 of the Elizabeth public school system’s 4,131 workers have six-figure salaries. That’s 13 percent of the municipal workforce compared to just three percent of the educational employees.
The median salary for the school system’s nearly 2,000 teachers is $59,979 — just 68 percent of the $87,548 average amount paid to Elizabeth police and firefighters, whose salaries are decided by the City Council.
Six of those teachers have PhDs and 765 of them earned masters degrees. There is no listing of information on police or firefighter qualifications, but either job requires only a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Two of the school employees with six-figure incomes are members of the City Council. Frank Cuesta made $132,192 as the principal of Nicholas Murray Butler School No. 23, while Edward Jackus earned $125,758 as a physical education supervisor.
Despite his glee over the voters’ rejection of the school spending plan, Jackus is among nearly 400 people who received layoff notices as a result of the governing body’s stated intent to cut workers.
Despite Gov. Chris Christie’s rhetoric against public workers, private sector employees average 11 percent more in wages and five percent more in total compensation than public workers with the same education level, experience and work schedule, according to a Rutgers University study.
Private sector workers with bachelor’s degrees earned an average of $89,041, compared to $56,641 for public sector workers, according to the latest federal data.
Public workers with less education are better off than their private sector counterparts, according to the Rutgers study. While public workers without a high school diploma averaged $41,000 in total compensation, the same private sector workers only averaged $27,719.
Among those with diplomas, public and private sector employees both averaged $44,000.
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