In Medford, the superintendent of schools could take home a nearly $273,000 payout when he retires, and his top assistant could be due $107,350 after his last day.
The tab doesn't end there for Medford taxpayers. The town is one of eight that sends students to the Lenape Regional High School District, whose superintendent has a nearly $110,000 retirement buyout on top of her $187,500 annual salary, both among the largest in South Jersey.
In all, at least eight school administrators in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties had six-figure buyouts in their contracts as of Jan. 1, according to information compiled by the state Department of Education.
The data are included in the most comprehensive summary yet of compensation for top New Jersey school administrators.
The compilation, which includes information on perks such as allowances for vehicles and cell phones, provides a broad perspective and individual detail on an issue that has roiled New Jersey, the state with the highest average property taxes in the nation.
"It's an effort to respond to the governor's call for increased accountability and transparency so that people can see how the administrators in their districts are being compensated," said department spokeswoman Kathryn Forsyth.
Forsyth stressed the data are self-reported by the districts and there may be some inaccuracies in the report. Information may have been entered incorrectly or contracts may have changed since Jan. 1, she said.
The data include information on salaries and benefits for superintendents, assistant superintendents, business administrators and other employees earning more than $75,000.
Administrators covered by collective bargaining are not included.
The chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Joseph Cryan (D., Union) has pushed a bill that would limit retirement payments in both future and current contracts.
"The residents of New Jersey are rightfully outraged at seeing their tax dollars used to provide departing superintendents with these offense payouts," Cryan said in a June statement when the bill moved through the Assembly.
But school officials say superintendents are benefitting from a competitive marketplace and that salaries in New Jersey are in line with those in nearby states.
"From a school board's point of view, you want to be careful with the tax dollars, but you also want to attract quality school leadership. Hiring a superintendent is probably the most important decision a school board will make," said Mike Yaple, a spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association.
He said demand is high across the nation for school leaders.
Lenape Regional Superintendent Emily Capella said her district, which provides high schools for eight Burlington County communities, is the county's largest in terms of enrollment (nearly 7,500 according to state data), has a 98 percent graduation rate and SAT scores that beat state and national averages.
"The district's administrators' salaries and benefits are commensurate with their experience and extensive management responsibilities necessary to perform their duties effectively in a district the size of" Lenape Regional, Capella wrote in an e-mail.
The nearly 3,600 contracts in the state database include $36.5 million in retirement payments and $17.1 million in other perks, such as stipends, bonuses, allowances and enhanced payments for retirement plans and health coverage.
The report tallied another $5.3 million in options to buy back sick time and vacation time.
The state has moved to eliminate or limit perks such as stipends and buyouts for sick time and vacation time, but the rules apply only to new contracts, not existing ones.
That means they can't stop a $740,876 payment due to Keansburg Superintendent Barbara A. Trzeszkowski, although state officials are fighting that payment in court.
The Trzeszkowski contract reignited a debate on administrator pay that began in 2006, when the State Commission of Investigation detailed numerous perks that were often hidden from public view.
Two South Jersey officials ranked among the top 10 in the state in terms of retirement payments, according to the state data.
The $272,638 buyout listed for Medford Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi is the third largest in the state and comes on top of a $163,582 base salary and another $13,235 in other annual payments.
Medford's assistant superintendent for finance and support services, Bryan McGair, is due a $107,350 retirement buyout.
Medford schools run through eighth grade and include about 3,000 students.
Pennsauken Superintendent James Chapman has a $174,285 buyout, also in the top 10 statewide.
His district has roughly 5,600 students.
Across the state, six school administrators had buyout clauses topping $200,000. Around 30 had six-figure retirement payments.
The superintendent of the Burlington County Special Services school district, Donald Lucas, had the fifth highest salary and third-largest retirement package, when compared to his South Jersey peers, in the report.
He earns $184,950 each year and has a $150,119 retirement buyout as he oversees a special needs school with about 1,000 students.
Lucas, Del Rossi and Chapman did not return calls seeking comment on their compensation.