District Employs Fewer, More Well-Compensated Administrators than NJ Average
This week Patch takes a look at a number of district educational trends revealed in the Department of Education’s annual Report Card, released May 31.
Contrary to the public perception that Fair Lawn has too many high-paid administrators in its school district, this year's annual state School Report Card finds that the district has actually had fewer administrators per student than the New Jersey average for at least the past three years.
Released Thursday, the School Report Card provides a district-by-district overview of public school performance across the state, with information on student demographics and performance, staff information and district financial data for the 2010-2011 school year.
Fair Lawn employed 23 administrators across nine schools during the 2010-2011 school year, or about 2.5 administrators per school. By comparison, the average New Jersey school district had 26 administrators for 7.5 schools, or about 3.5 administrators per school.
"Despite what people think, we are under the state average," Superintendent Bruce Watson said. "That should make people feel confident that we’re not overloaded with administration."
Based on School Report Card data, school districts across the state have been cutting administrative positions for the past few years, and Fair Lawn is no exception. The district has downsized by two administrators since the 2008-2009 school year, which amounts to an 8 percent cut in administrative personnel.
Watson said that like many private sector companies weathering today's economy, schools have also had to cut down on management and ask teachers to do more.
The skills the district hires for today are far different than the ones it did a couple decades ago, he said. The ability to think critically and problem solve are paramount for today's teachers.
"It used to be management would do that and workers through obedience would do their job," Watson said. "Today it’s a whole different philosophy."
Watson said that many years ago, teachers would essentially feed students the answers rather than teaching them to think critically and solve problems on their own.
With today's businesses expecting young workers to come in with an ability to do more than follow orders, teachers are now tasked with preparing students differently, Watson said.
"Critical thinkers ask for the problem and solve it themselves," he said. "In schools, both teachers and students need to make the change to critical thinking in the classroom."
While Fair Lawn's administrators do number fewer than those in an average district, they also make substantially more money. The median salary of a Fair Lawn administrator was $15,000 higher than that of the state average in 2010-2011 and about $4,000 more than the median salary of an administrator at a socioeconomically comparable Bergen County district.
That higher salary, however, comes with more experience. This past year, the median Fair Lawn administrator (25 years experience) had six more years of experience than the median administrator statewide (19 years experience). Among Bergen County schools with comparable socioeconomic indicators, Fair Lawn has the most experienced administrators.
It should also be noted that Fair Lawn is on the more fiscally responsible end of the trend when it comes to administrative salaries. As median adminstrative salaries have increased by about 4 percent statewide since the 2008-2009 school year, Fair Lawn's administrators have actually seen their median salaries drop by 3.5 percent.
|Number of Administrators - Fair Lawn||Number of Administrators - State||Students per Administrator - Fair Lawn||Students per Administrator - State|
Median Salary and Years of Experience of Administrators
|Median Administrator Salary - Fair Lawn||Median Administrator Salary - State||Median Years of Experience - Fair Lawn||Median Years of Experience - State|
Bergen County School Districts in the "GH" District Factor Group
|Median Administrator Salary '10-'11||Median Years of Experience '10-'11|
* Edgewater is a one school district and was not included in calculating average