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MEMBER SERVICES


1999-2000 Salary Survey

School boards must pay for experience

by Max E. Pierson and Robert F. Hall

Max Pierson and Robert Hall are professors of educational administration at Western Illinois University. The authors wish to thank Connie Wise, Don Corrigan and the staff members of the Department of Research and Policy, Illinois State Board of Education, and to acknowledge their contributions towards this effort.

Administrative salary increases are influenced by a number of a factors both internal and external to the district. Economic conditions within the community, labor relations, how recently the administrator was appointed, and general community satisfaction with the administration are factors which will influence salary.

One of the major external factors which is affecting salaries is the state of supply and demand for superintendents. A study conducted last winter shows forty percent of the sitting superintendents in the state of Illinois plan to retire within the next five years. Conversations with consultants who conduct superintendent searches in other Midwest states and even national searches suggest that this trend is not unique to Illinois. For example, Iowa edu- cators are predicting that fifty percent of the administrators in that state will retire by the year 2002, and another one-third will retire by 2007.

While school boards tend to prefer experienced candidates, the pool of superintendents with extensive experience is rapidly disappearing. This is true of all administrative positions. School boards that insist on experienced personnel will soon find themselves in a bidding war and can expect to have to pay higher salaries.

Many boards of education are torn between keeping the constituents happy and providing competitive salaries which will attract and retain competent school administrative personnel. Taxpayers must be made aware that, while salary increases for administrators are expensive, so is the cost of excessive turnover and constant administrative searches. The cost of these searches is reflected not only financially, but also in the educational instability which results from a never-ending series of administrators who serve one or two years until they can move on to a better job. Educational systems which fall into this category are typically stagnant with little planned articulated program improvement. These systems may also have high teacher turnover, because the staff becomes tired of the constant shift in program priorities and seeks some stability.

The total income of many superintendents in smaller districts is probably understated in this survey. A review of the files shows that a large number of superintendents are receiving a salary as superintendent and an equal or slightly smaller salary as building principal. For example, one person may receive $64,000 as a superintendent and $56,000 as a building principal for a total salary of $120,000. Any school board which is reviewing the salary of its superintendent or seeking a new chief school administrator should be aware that this method of compensation is not unusual. It is particularly common in small districts which are trying to recruit qualified superintendents.

The salary information in the accompanying tables can help board of education members make decisions about salary increases for incumbent school administrators and provide guidance for those seeking a new top administrator.

Superintendents' salaries

The highest reported superintendent's salary in the state is from a high school district. High school districts usually are the highest paid (state mean of $115,501), followed by elementary superintendents ($100,702) and then unit district superintendents ($90,390). This is the second year that the average salary for all superintendents in the state exceeds the $90,000 figure, with the average salary at $96,348. Sixty-four percent of the superintendents in the state are making between $72,192 and $120,502. This is virtually the same average as last year with just a few dollars difference in the range. In general, salaries continue to be highest in the northeast section of the state.

Average high school district superintendents' salaries in the west central region only increased 1.5 percent, while similar salaries in the southeast and southwest increased by 12.8 and 11.7 percent, respectively. Average elementary superintendents' salaries in the southeast region decreased by 6.1 percent, while average salaries in the northeast increased by 5.3 percent. Unit district superintendents' salaries in the west central decreased by 1.5 percent, while those in the east central and southwest increased by 7.5 and 5.8 percent, respectively.

Principals' salaries

Principal salaries quoted this year are based on a sample of the salaries of 1,148 principals out of the approximately 3,900 building principals in the state. In all regions except the northeast, the sample size is greater than last year and this fact could contribute to some of the changes noted in average salaries. The average salary for all principals ranged from $64,036 (up $4,212 from last year) in the east central region to $80,806 (up $1,388 from last year) in the northeast region.

The highest overall salary percentage increases were found in the east central region, with the average salary for high school principals increasing 10.3 percent, and elementary and middle school principal salaries up 6.6 percent. In the northeast region, which has traditionally had the highest reported salaries, high school principal salaries were up 7.8 percent, but middle school and elementary principal salaries were about the same as last year with reported middle school salaries up 1.2 percent and elementary salaries down .8 percent. Since the sample size in the northeast region is much smaller than last year, the changes may not reflect actual salaries in the region.

High school principals still make more than middle school principals who make more than elementary school principals. The highest reported salaries for high school principals ranged from $185, 654 in the northeast region to $92,736 in the east central region. Note that the highest reported salary jumped $50,500 from last year. For middle school principals, the highest reported salaries ranged from $114,625 in the northeast to $81,033 in the east central region. Among elementary school principals the highest reported salaries ranged from $111,119 in the northeast to $80,564 in the southwest. Average salaries for high school, middle school and elementary school principals in the northeast region are again the highest in the state. Last year the lowest reported average salaries for principals at all three levels were in the east central region. This year, the lowest reported salary at the high school level was in the west central region and the lowest salary for middle school principals was again in the east central region. The lowest reported elementary principal salary was in the southeast region.

Recommendations

The job market for superintendents and principals is really a statewide market, and in some cases, a national market. Because of administrative cost caps, boards of education should maintain salaries in the range appropriate to the type and size of the district and meaningfully evaluate the superintendent. If the present superintendent is not performing at the level necessary for retention, then do not reduce the salary or withhold raises, but instead either terminate or do not reemploy that individual upon the expiration of the contract. Failure to follow this simple rule could severely restrict the school board's options when it searches for a new administrator.

Communities and boards which value quality leadership and wish to attract and retain high quality administrators must be prepared to offer salaries which are competitive with the average salaries being received statewide. If you have promotable quality leaders within your district, be sure to offer them salaries comparable to those they would command if they moved to another district. If you don't, they will.

About this report

The information concerning superintendents and principals salaries was developed from unaudited information reported by the school districts to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on the Teachers Service Record, Fall 1999. It was gathered by the staff of the Department of Research and Policy, ISBE, who made the timely development of this report possible. It was compiled and analyzed by staff of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs and Department of Educational Administration and Supervision, Western Illinois University.

Superintendent salaries
Region
Respondents
High
Low
Mean
% Change
Northeast
17
$205,280
$85,997
$137,552
+3.6
1998 data
24
$165,123
$82,748
$132,755
Northwest
6
$128,857
$78,514
$102,515
+10.5
1998 data
6
$115,464
$75,495
$92,757
East Central
5
$104,282
$92,714
$98,555
+6.9
1998 data
3
$96,580
$88,300
$92,221
West Central
7
$149,370
$87,673
$105,059
+1.5
1998 data
7
$145,091
$84,100
$103,519
Southeast
3
103,647
$81,142
$93,404
+12.8
1998 data
3
$94,835
$59,091
$82,810
Southwest
4
$140,518
$78,929
$97,294
+11.7
1998 data
3
$104,720
$71,837
$87,057
 
Elementary
Region
Respondents
High
Low
Mean
% Change
Northeast
69
$171,542
$66,136
$118,056
+5.3
1998 data
91
$156,726
$51,686
$112,111
Northwest
22
$125,854
$56,437
$78,107
+8.6
1998 data
21
$104,933
$51,708
$74,873
East Central
8
$95,537
$64,216
$80,111
+3.8
1998 data
10
$90,988
$62,944
$77,154
West Central
17
$144,338
$56,104
$90,292
+4.1
1998 data
25
$125,966
$64,235
$86,738
Southeast
6
$97,619
$64,262
$73,543
-6.1
1998 data
4
$95,422
$62,000
$78,274
Southwest
12
$103,359
$67,802
$84,401
+2.6
1998 data
10
$101,833
$49,000
$82,223
 
Unit
Region
Respondents
High
Low
Mean
% Change
Northeast
26
$138,456
$61,000
$104,329
-0.3
1998 data
27
$132,422
$62,145
$104,595
Northwest
44
$139,215
$64,775
$92,598
+4.1
1998 data
27
$132,065
$63,700
$88,939
East Central
48
$129,242
$62,000
$90,052
+7.5
1998 data
32
$114,626
$64,834
$83,798
West Central
58
$151,648
$63,000
$87,140
-1.5
1998 data
46
$120,879
$62,842
$88,435
Southeast
35
$128,796
$59,934
$84,703
0.0
1998 data
27
$110,512
$62,000
$84,633
Southwest
22
$138,000
$58,925
$87,858
+5.8
1998 data
16
$106,936
$58,115
$83,068

 

Principal salaries
All Principals
Region
Respondents
High
Low
Mean
% Change
Northeast
262
$185,654
$42,298
$80,806
Northwest
232
$105,668
$41,089
$70,117
East Central
208
$92,736
$39,536
$64,037
West Central
234
$131,103
$32,604
$65,916
Southeast
123
$102,194
$38,750
$64,078
Southwest
89
$111,316
$43,956
$66,780
 
School Type
Elementary
662
$111,119
$32,604
$66,405
Middle School
228
$114,625
$40,668
$71,716
High School
258
$185,654
$44,505
$76,394
 
High School
Northeast
45
$185,654
$57,671
$102,333
+7.8
1998 data
62
$135,138
$49,645
$94,917
Northwest
57
$105,668
$57,652
$76,149
+5.0
1998 data
34
$92,566
$44,945
$72,505
East Central
44
$92,736
$47,542
$69,163
+10.3
1998 data
18
$81,320
$47,282
$62,683
West Central
55
$131,103
$44,505
$67,797
+1.4
1998 data
35
$127,471
$43,250
$66,888
Southeast
33
$102,194
$50,110
$68,350
+2.8
1998 data
22
$90,612
$45,680
$66,473
Southwest
24
$109,722
$49,756
$72,354
+3.0
1998 data
47
$111,543
$44,475
$70,256
 
Junior High or Middle School
Region
Respondents
High
Low
Mean
% Change
Northeast
60
$114,625
$52,238
$81,359
+1.2
1998 data
50
$100,908
$43,050
$80,384
Northwest
42
$98,644
$51,359
$71,193
+4.0
1998 data
21
$95,062
$48,913
$68,486
East Central
32
$81,003
$40,668
$66,256
+6.6
1998 data
14
$77,675
$48,760
$62,179
West Central
56
$92,787
$49,038
$67,919
+7.2
1998 data
39
$82,826
$46,703
$63,340
Southeast
20
$84,718
$54,380
$67,065
+9.4
1998 data
12
$84,718
$48,048
$64,845
Southwest
18
$111,316
$50,549
$67,473
-8.8
1998 data
8
$92,764
$54,000
$73,954
 
Elementary School
Region
Respondents
High
Low
Mean
% Change
Northeast
157
$111,119
$42,298
$74,424
-0.8
1998 data
231
$108,844
$42,375
$75,049
Northwest
133
$94,679
$41,089
$67,296
-0.7
1998 data
54
$91,174
$45,143
$67,768
East Central
132
$89,268
$39,536
$61,790
+6.6
1998 data
42
$77,630
$44,880
$57,974
West Central
123
$91,443
$32,604
$64,211
+3.3
1998 data
82
$79,300
$48,692
$62,173
Southeast
70
$89,949
$38,570
$61,211
+2.7
1998 data
60
$89,949
$41,675
$59,597
Southwest
47
$80,564
$43,956
$63,669
-3.3
1998 data
23
$89,026
$46,000
$65,838

Response rate and statistical methodology

The Teacher Service Record data aggregates the results of 409 district reports, of 896 possible districts for a response rate of 45.6 percent. Some districts have not submitted the report yet because of unresolved salary disputes, some are still in transit from the regional offices, and no part-time or interim superintendents' salaries are included. Principals' salary data was gathered by selecting the first principal's salary encountered on the paper Teacher Service Record and noting whether it was an elementary principal, secondary or middle school principal. For the districts which used electronic filing of the data, all principals salaries are included. This gave a random distribution throughout the state. Data from the regions, while not complete, appears to be representative. The salary data from Cook County and the City of Chicago public schools is not contained in this report. The data were sorted by region and district type before the range and mean were calculated.

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