Janitors Clean Up

NYC school dysfunction


Public school janitors earn more money than any other municipal employees in New York City. In September, the New York Post reported that the average pay for a school custodian was $109,467 in the 2013–2014 school year.

As surprising as it may seem, these Cadillac custodians make a bizarre kind of fiscal sense. There are 799 custodians on the school system's payroll—638 of whom earn more than $100,000—but they are charged with cleaning 1,500 school buildings. That means virtually everyone is working massive amounts of overtime.

Despite all the overtime, school districts find this arrangement preferable to taking on more workers, due in part to the high cost of new hires. Putting a new city employee on the books requires a mountain of paperwork, and it saddles the treasury with long-term commitments on benefits. And in the case of school custodians, the city also requires applicants to obtain special licenses certifying that they are able to operate boilers, heating and cooling systems, fire alarms, and sprinklers.

John Murphy, an associate inspector for the Department of Buildings, brought home the most overtime pay of any city worker in 2014: $179,099 to boost his overall take-home total to $265,498. Explaining the astronomical figure to AMNewYork, a city spokesman said Murphy picked up extra shifts after Hurricane Sandy and that about $100,000 of the money was covered by federal recovery funds.