Take 20: Administrator Salaries Series

By Theresa Kelly Gegen

Since 1997, IASB, working with researchers in the field of educational leadership, has published a report on the salaries of Illinois school admin­istrators. Early data for the study was obtained through surveys with un-audited information, with rela­tively low rates of return.

In 2009, Public Act 96-0434 required Illinois school districts to report administrator and teacher salary information to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The Illinois School Code was amended in 2011 to reflect changes in the reporting dates. The data were briefly unavailable during the transition, and the series was paused for a few years. With those breaks, this marks the 20th iteration of the Administrator Salaries Series.

With reporting standards in place and the data being made available to researchers, IASB’s study of administrator salaries was revived in 2014 and 2015 with a catch-all and catch-up from the missing years, followed by a normal annual analysis. The series paused again in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic upended data retrieval and series publishing. That year also concluded the ability of our longtime collaborators at Western Illinois University to participate. We remain grateful for their exten­sive work over the years to keep the series going. The installments since then adhere to their standards for identifying trends, reportage, and analysis as faithfully as possible.

Historically, this study does not count Chicago Public Schools, which due to its outsized numbers, nomen­clature, and governance structure make comparisons ineffective. We also eliminate charter schools, many of which use non-standard position titles or have incomplete entries, and as a result are statistically insignifi­cant. A small number of records are eliminated if they have missing data. We download each year’s data set at the same time, so the numbers are not identical and any adjustments made since the previous study report will be reflected in the latest report.

The data in our study is as reported by the school districts to the Illinois State Board of Education as required by the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/10-20.47 and 5/34-18.38). The data are publicly available and nomenclatures, includ­ing position descriptions and titles, are established by ISBE. The Journal’s work organizes the data as has been historically done in this series by year, position, and region. We thank ISBE for their ongoing efforts to make this information available, and to the dis­tricts for providing the data.

Focusing on Superintendents
This installment includes 2022 salaries, as published in 2023. For the series, we compare changes in aver­age, full-time equivalent salaries, including benefits as compiled by ISBE, from 2020 to 2021, and 2021 to 2022. We also compare salaries by region. In this print edition you will see charts for district superintendent salaries. Charts for other adminis­trators (assistant and associate super­intendents, principals and assistant principals, and other administrators, are available online at iasb.com/administrator-salaries.

From 2021 to 2022, across all employment categories, salaries increased, but by smaller percentages than in the past year. Typically, and this year is no exception, a 2-3% increase in average salaries is fol­lowed by slightly smaller incremental increases — but still increases — in the next year.

Statewide, average salaries for district superintendents (see Table 1) rose 2.4% from the previous year: The average salary was $194,848 in 2021 and rose to $199,542 in 2022. The highest and lowest salaries increased significantly from 2021 to 2022. Most but not all administra­tors receive monetary benefits, listed as Bonus, Annuities, Retirement Enhancement, and Other Benefits. These monetary benefits, as reported by the districts, add approximately $30,000 to the average salary for district superintendents and range from zero to over half an individual’s full-time equivalent salary plus ben­efits.

Data for assistant and associate superintendents follows a slightly lower trajectory of increase (see online Table 3). The average salary for this category of administrator was $193,164 in 2022, an increase of 1.1% over $190,698 the prior year. Reasons to be cautious about using the statewide data include the fact that 379 of the 477 assistant and associate superintendents work in the study’s Northeast Region: Chicago’s collar counties. Further skewing the numbers is that the Northeast, with its higher-than-average cost of living, includes all but two of the highest 100 salaries in this category. This also helps explain, as it has done in years past, why there is not a greater difference between the district super­intendents and the associate and assis­tant superintendents.

Speaking of regions, this Admin­istrator Salaries Series relies on region­al numbers to tell a more accurate story across Illinois’ school districts and their diversity. These regions (see map illustration) were established in the early days of this ongoing series and we maintain them for consistency.

As was the case last year, the Northeast Region is an outlier, in reported numbers of administrators and their salaries, and in student population. Of the 10 Illinois school districts that educate the most stu­dents, only one, Rockford CUSD 205, is not in the Northeast, which includes McHenry, Lake, Kane, Cook, DuPage, Kendall, Will, Grun­dy, and Kankakee Counties. Well over half of the administrators in this study are in the Northeast Region and the average and median salaries in all categories are the highest by far. Comparing the Northeast with­in itself, which would more precisely reflect administrator salary expectations in Illinois, is a study for another time.

For District Superintendents (see Table 2), in 2022 the highest average salary of $257,304 was in the North­east Region; that average increased a tiny amount from $257,401 in 2021.

The Northeast’s nearest statistical companion is the Northwest. Even so, the average district superintendent salary in the Northwest of $183,116 is just 71% of that in the Northeast and much closer to the third-highest of $169,972 in the East Central and $164,096 in the West Central. The Southeast Region is typically the site of the state’s lowest average administrator salaries.

The regional charts for other administrators (assistant and associate superintendents, principals and assistant principals, and other administrators), are available online. The regional data for those other administrators follows the same pattern as the numbers for district superinten­dent, and indeed for the study’s last several years.

Table 1: Superintendent Salary Comparison 2020-2022
Table 2: Superintendent Salary Regional Comparison 2022

Table 3: Assistant Superintendent Salary Comparison 2020-2022
Table 4: Assistant Superintendent Salary Regional Comparison 2022

Table 5: Principal Salary Comparison 2020-2022
Table 6: Principal Superintendent Salary Regional Comparison 2022

Table 7: Assistant Principal Salary Comparison 2020-2022
Table 8: Assistant Principal Salary Regional Comparison 2022

Table 9: Other Administrator Salary Comparison 2020-2022
Table 10: Other Administrator Salary Regional Comparison 2022


Theresa Kelly Gegen is Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal. The additional charts from this study and the complete administrator salary series are available on the IASB website at iasb.com/administrator-salaries.