NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Superintendents Paid as Much as Corporate CEOs

March 25, 2013

Property taxes have continued to increase in many parts of the country throughout the recession because of rising costs to fund public schools. The increased costs are driven by the large salaries that many school superintendents receive, says Elizabeth MacDonald of Fox Business News.

  • Many superintendents have salaries in the mid-six-figure range and get paid more than 10 times what teachers get paid.
  • In New Jersey, New York, California, Ohio, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington, school superintendents get paid more than governors.
  • While the salaries are high, public school performance continues to be poor throughout the country when measured by student scores and fiscal accountability.

The districts with the highest paid superintendents are the districts whose schools are struggling the most. Some of the superintendents are paid based on corporate pay models and now referred to as CEOs.

  • Superintendent pay packages frequently include retention or "longevity" bonuses, lucrative health care benefits, annuities and retiree benefits that pay up to 80 percent of salary.
  • Some districts offer additional perks like cars, parking garages, cell phones and travel.
  • The worst offenders retire from the superintendent position to collect a pension only to go right back to work to earn two salaries at once.

Consider these figures:

  • In 2011, more than 80 school superintendents made more than $200,000 in New Jersey, which is higher than the nationwide average of $162,000.
  • In New York, more than 40 percent of the state's supers earn more than $200,000 per year.
  • The Los Angeles superintendent is paid nearly $330,000 to oversee 930 schools, 667,000 students and more than 45,470 teachers.
  • In Chicago, the CEO makes $250,000 per year while the public school system faces a $665 million budget deficit.
  • In Ohio, 25 percent of public school leaders have retired and pocketed benefits, only to be rehired elsewhere for another salary.

Source: Elizabeth MacDonald, "Superintendent Pay at the Top of the Class," Fox Business News, March 20, 2013.


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