Superintendents weigh in on salaries, school board, equity and COVID

90% of respondents described their school boards as effective or highly effective
By: | February 23, 2021

A majority of superintendents have been in their positions between one and five years, and an even larger majority are white and male, according to a Board & Administrator/District Administration survey.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents to the survey of more than 250 district leaders identified as male. Some 43% reported having been in their position between one and five years, 17% saying they’d been in their post for more than a decade.

On salaries, the superintendents, who lead districts of all sizes, reported earning the following:

  • Less than $95,000 a year: 4.7%
  • $95,000-$149,000: 39.4%
  • $150,000-$199,000: 31.5%
  • $200,000-$299,000: 20.9%
  • $350,000+: 1.2%

Just about nine in 10 of the respondents reported receiving a raise of 5% or less over the last 12 months. The same amount expect a similarly-sized raise during the next year. Only 15% said they had received a bonus.

The most common perks reported were cars, laptops and cellphones. Superintendents also said they receive additional contributions to retirement and life insurance accounts, and an executive physical. Only a small number (1.6%) get a housing allowance.

The respondents overwhelmingly identified as white. Here’s the ethnic breakdown:

  • Black: 5%
  • Hispanic: 4%
  • Asian: .8%
  • White: 88%
  • Native American: .8%

As for school board meetings, most (about 70%) said they meet once a month, with most of the rest meeting twice monthly. And 90% described their school boards as effective or highly effective.

And just less than two-thirds gave themselves an “A” grade for their relationship with their school board. Just 2% rated the relationship a “D” and none gave themselves an “F.”

COVID considerations

The survey also asked several questions about the COVID-disrupted 2020-21 school year. Nine in 10 of the respondents said they gave devices to students for online learning while a little more than half partnered with internet providers and community organizations to make Wi-Fi accessible.


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They rated internet access, teacher training, costs and parent communication as the biggest challenges of the COVID-era. Almost all the respondents said they had provider teachers with online or virtual training during this school year.

About one third of the superintendents said their districts are facing a small decrease in funding because of COVID while about 30% expect a large decrease. About 15% expect a small increase.

Among the lasting impacts of the COVID-era, the superintendents said:

  • Virtual learning will continue to be a method to deliver instruction
  • Identification of educational gaps
  • Concern over staff and students that don’t get the vaccine
  • Because parents are seeing firsthand the low-level clerical work students are being given, districts will move to more authentic performance measures and away from standardization
  • Learning loss, enrollment decline and parents angry at teachers’ union
  • Bad weather closures should be a thing of the past
  • More deliberate planning and preparations for meeting the needs of all students and staff
  • Sick children will be required to stay at home

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