Superintendent salaries are being outpaced by inflation amid high demand

That's according to The School Superintendents Association's annual salary and benefits study, which suggests that the median salary in 2023 was $7,000 less than it was in 2013.

For newer and transitioning superintendents, the high turnover since the pandemic means higher salaries as demand for their skills increases. Across the board, however, superintendent salaries lag behind inflation.

That’s according to The School Superintendents Association’s annual Salary and Benefits Study, which suggests that the average salary in 2023 was nearly $7,000 less than it was a decade ago when accounting for inflation. The study reflects more than 2,700 superintendents who took the survey, the highest response rate since the study debuted in 1999.

“For more than a decade, AASA has provided this invaluable resource to school system leaders so they can learn from the experiences of their peers and gain insight into the working conditions of the superintendency across the country,” AASA Executive Director David R. Schuler said in a statement.

Key takeaways

The 90-plus page abridged report offers detailed insight into the finances of the average superintendent. For brevity, District Administration has compiled some of the most important findings from the research for your consideration.

Females earn more

Despite being few in number, the median salary among female superintendents was slightly higher than that of their male counterparts for the seventh time over the past 12 years. On average, female superintendents earned $156,780 compared to male superintendents ($156,000).

“The data suggests that this difference was not a function of district enrollment as females tended to work in smaller districts, nor was it a result of years of experiences, as females in this year’s survey reported having slightly fewer years of experience in the superintendency,” the report reads.

The superintendency is getting younger

This may come as no surprise considering turnover rates in recent years. Many leaders have retired since the pandemic, leaving young leaders to fill their place.

According to the data, more than 85% of respondents were 41-60 years old. Furthermore, 35.11% of respondents were aged 41-50, considerably higher than 2012’s figures (29.83%). In 2023-24, the number of leaders older than 60 also decreased from nearly 20% to just over 9%. Overall, the mean age of the superintendent was 50, two years younger than in last year’s study.

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An increase in diversity

Similar to the previous finding, the superintendency is also becoming more diverse. In 2012, 94% of superintendents were white. Fast forward to 2023, that number has decreased to 87%, followed by nearly 4.5% Black or African American and 4% Hispanic or Latino.

A variety of experience levels

Despite a recent surge in turnover at the top, just 7.39% of leaders are in their first year of the superintendency. The majority of leaders are currently in years one to five as a superintendent (40.43%). More than a quarter are in years six-10 and more than 15% are in years 11-15.

Assistance in transitioning districts

To no surprise, 36% of leaders said they relied on legal counsel or other outside agents to help negotiate their employment contract, the survey suggests. That’s an increase of six percent since 2019-20.

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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