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Superintendents' Salaries Rose Slightly in 2019

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By Gabrielle Wanneh

The median salary of a school superintendent increased in 2019, ranging from $117,500 in the smallest districts to $388,709 in larger school systems, a new survey has found. Superintendents' median salaries in 2018 ranged from $100,000 to $234,000.

The new statistics come from the eighth edition of the AASA Superintendent Salary & Benefits Study. They show that as district enrollment has increased, salaries have gone up in tandem, a trend that has been consistent over the last four years.

The data also show some race- and gender-related compensation gaps among superintendents.

Twenty-three percent of the survey participants in 2019 were female while roughly 75 percent were male, and the vast majority of participants were white (non-Hispanic or Latino), with a collection of other racial and cultural groups making up the remaining 6.2 percent.

Female participants reported a median salary of $138,125, slightly less than the $141,217 reported by their male counterparts. 

There were only slight differences between genders, however, when male and female superintendents' median salaries were compared for districts of the same enrollment size.

Apart from 2018, female participants have usually reported higher minimum overall base salaries than male participants, but lower maximum salaries. In 2019, female superintendents reported a minimum salary of $78,000 and a maximum salary of $325,000, while male superintendents reported a minimum of $64,250 and maximum of $357,418.

"This might be because female superintendents are staying in the classrooms longer than their male counterparts." said Chris Rogers, an AASA policy analyst and contributor to the recent report. 

He said this means that it's possible that many female superintendents might have started their careers in the school system earlier, possibly in teaching or other administrative roles, before becoming superintendent, thus prompting the higher minimum salary.

The 2019 study marks the first year to break out data for superintendents of different racial or cultural groups. African-American superintendents earned a median base salary of $189,00 and Latino superintendents reported earning $180,000, both higher than the $140,000 salary of white superintendents. Asian-American superintendents reported a median salary of $221,760.

As is the case for female superintendents, the historically disadvantaged racial groups represented reported higher minimum base salaries and lower maximum salaries than those of the white participants.

The study warns about drawing definitive conclusions from the data, however, especially in regard to women superintendents and those from different racial groups, because of the small numbers of respondents in those demographic groups.

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