Salary Trends Reveal Positive Increase
Top administrator positions and school spokespeople see large gains over the past decade.
Over the past decade, superintendents, deputy or associate superintendents, and public information officers in public school districts nationwide have seen at least a 40 percent increase in salary, a positive jump compared to many other district-level positions, according to the 2008-2009 salary survey by Educational Research Service.
Superintendents and deputy superintendents have seen their salaries go up by about 47 percent over 10 years, with superintendents earning an average salary of $155,634 and deputy superintendents making an average of $136,832 in 2008-2009. Public relations or public information officers have seen a nearly 41 percent increase in salary over 10 years, earning an average salary of $83,235 in 2008-2009, according to Salaries and Wages Paid Professional and Support Personnel in Public Schools, 2008-2009 by ERS.
Over the last five years, however, the rate of increase has slowed. Superintendents have seen roughly a 19 percent increase in salary, with deputy superintendents and public information officers only seeing increases of approximately 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
The salaries in the survey were set during the spring and early summer of 2008, while the data were pulled during the fall of 2008.
Given the high stress, accountability demands and quick turnover, superintendents are paid well, especially in larger districts, according to John Draper, CEO at ERS. He is quick to point out the differences, however, between top district salaries and top business salaries. "If you look at superintendent salaries and then look at CEO salaries, for the amount of employees ... and the budgets that superintendents oversee, most of them are getting somewhere in the neighborhood of two to four times a teacher's salary," Draper says. But a CEO of a corporation is getting something close to "several hundred times the average worker's salary," he says. "I think business needs to be more like education."
Public information officers have also become more popular, and not only in large, urban districts but also in smaller districts. They can send a positive message to build support for public school building projects and educational efforts. "I think it has a lot to do with the whole issue of scrutiny we have on public schools and around funding," Draper says. "Communities have to vote to keep or increase funding, and there is a lot of discussion around charters, No Child Left Behind and school accountability, so there is a lot more data out there, and that increases the need to help interpret that data." Other districtwide positions have seen increases that either exceeded or kept pace with inflation, including central office data entry clerks or typists, who saw a 41 percent increase in salary in 10 years and earned $31,718 on average in 2008-2009.
Finance and business managers have seen a 38 percent increase in salary over 10 years, earning an average salary of $98,590 in 2008-2009. And they've seen a 16 percent increase in salary over the past five years.
New teachers saw a 35 percent increase in salary over the past 10 years, earning on average $36,718 in 2008-2009, Draper points out. "If I'm [an administrator] competing to get new math teachers just coming out of college and looking at various career possibilities, I'm going to do everything I can to sweeten the pot for them," he says.