NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Few Aspire to be School Superintendents

April 3, 2000

There are no shortages of people with the proper credentials to be public school superintendents. But there is a shortage of people who want the job, according to officials of the American Association of School Administrators.

One result is that superintendents' salaries in some pockets of the country have climbed to heights previously reserved for captains of private industry, top-flight lawyers and sports stars.

  • Superintendents' salaries in suburban areas around Washington, D.C., for example, are as high as $237,000 a year -- $37,000 more than President Clinton earns.
  • Education specialists report that when a superintendent vacancy occurs, usually only about 10 applicants submit resumes -- compared to some 40 applications in earlier years.
  • Reasons for the lack of interest include having to deal with politically charged school boards and county councils, as well as the need to put in long hours.
  • On average, superintendents of urban and large suburban systems remain in their jobs only two to three years before moving on, according to Fordham University professor Bruce Cooper.

Superintendents of smaller school systems tend to remain on the job about seven years.

They often complain that they are held accountable for reform but don't have the authority to implement reforms amid skyrocketing enrollments, mandated state learning standards and pressures to increase test scores.

Source: Jabeen Bhatti, "School Superintendents Becoming Hard to Find," Washington Times, April 3, 2000.


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