Is high turnover now leading to higher superintendent salaries?

The salaries for the leaders in some California districts have grown by around 60% as openings increase and applicants decline, according to an EdSource analysis released in December.

A tight labor market is driving superintendent salaries and benefits up substantially in at least one state. The salaries for the leaders in some California districts have grown by around 60% as openings increase and applicants decline, a recent EdSource analysis found.

“If the district really wants somebody, and they’re holding out for a higher salary, they’re probably going to get it because it is hard to find people,” Cathy Nichols-Washer, former superintendent of the Lodi Unified School District, told EdSource. But even with higher salaries, a challenging political environment and other pressures are dissuading educators from applying for open superintendencies, school board members told the website.

Reports reveal a similar trend in Pennsylvania, where a string of recent resignations has pushed the number of vacancies up to 15, reported. More than a third of the state’s superintendents have changed jobs in the last two years, and that has driven up demand and salaries, superintendents told the news outlet.

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Overall, the average pay for Pennsylvania superintendents has soared by nearly 12% over the last five years, noted.

The mean salary for superintendents was $156,468 in 2022–2023, a slight decrease from the previous year, according to AASA, The School Superintendents Association’s latest survey. The organization also noted that superintendents are getting younger.

Just over 31% of district leaders were between 40 and 50 years old in 2022, compared to a little less than 30% in 2012. Only 12% were over 60 years of age in 2022, compared to 19% 10 years prior.

In Texas, school boards are paying close attention to the salaries of K12 leaders across the state. The latest figures from the Texas Association of School Boards show that the median salary for a superintendent in 2023–24 is $150,000, an increase of 0.7% from last year.

The median salary for superintendents in 196 of Texas’ smallest districts—those with 499 or fewer students—grew to $112,466, a 3.4% increase. “In today’s competitive labor market, it’s important that school board members have the latest compensation data so they can develop a compelling pay and benefits package that will help them recruit or retain the best superintendent for their district,” said Amy Campbell, director of TASB HR Services, which administers the survey.

Missouri is the latest state to see legislation introduced that would limit superintendent salaries. A bill introduced this year would prevent superintendents from earning more than 5.5 times what a beginning teacher earns in the same district, News-Press NOW reported. Lawmakers in several other states have proposed similar measures.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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