Teacher salaries get quite a bit of press these days (read about the average salary of elementary school teachers on Salary Stories), but you rarely hear about school superintendents. However, recently, the New York Times reported on some of the highest school superintendents’ salaries, which happen to be in Westchester County in New York State. For instance, Mount Vernon, New York is looking to pay a new school superintendent almost $317K (salary and benefits), way above the median salary ($141,127) for a school superintendent in New York State.
Mount Vernon school board president Lynn McBride defended the superintendent salaries in the New York Times: "In order to entice anyone to come into Westchester, we had to be competitive with the rest of the salaries in Westchester. Our superintendent has been one of the lowest paid.” Not anymore. The Times reports that the median pay package for a superintendent in Westchester County during the 2007-2008 school year is $288,400 (salary and benefits). In 2007-2008, thirteen administrators will actually earn more than $300K (total compensation), putting them in the "highest school superintendents’ salaries" category.
How does your salary compare to the highest school superintendents’ salaries? Find out with our salary calculator.
Superintendent Job Description
So what exactly do superintendents do to earn all this money? They are responsible for the schools in their districts, overseeing principals and teachers, and helping establish those “zero tolerance” policies (which are technically an oxymoron). The highest-paid superintendent in Westchester County is Robert J. Roelle of the Ossining school district. His salary and benefits are reportedly worth more than $345K for the 2007-2008 school session.
According to the New York Times, school superintendents’ salaries in Westchester County have been rising 6-7 percent annually for the last three years, staying way ahead of the inflation rate (3 percent). Westchester County assistant superintendents are not doing badly either. Their median pay package increased 5.1 percent to $208,250. What about those folks who actually teach the kids? Officials say that teachers’ salaries rise 5 to 6 percent annually.
What are Westchester County Teacher Salaries?
How much do teachers in Westchester County earn? According to our PayScale research center, the average salary for a Westchester high school teacher, with 10-19 years of experience, is $57,647. Not nearly as much as a superintendent, or an assistant superintendent, but with their 5 to 6 percent annual raise, that number could grow quickly. Let’s say you earn $57,647; with a 5 percent annual raise, you’ll earn an extra $2882. That gives you a salary of $60,529 for 2008-2009. If that increases by 5 percent, then you’ll earn an extra $3026, which means your salary for 2009-2010 will be $63,555, and so on.
Where is all this money coming from? High property taxes, plus the state of New York sends millions of dollars to suburban school districts. Westchester County school districts pay close to $10.8 million for the superintendents who oversee 122,000 students. That is nearly $100 per student just for superintendents!
Most voters apparently do not mind the high taxes, as they can reject school budgets in elections. Mount Vernon school board president Lynn McBride gave her theory to the New York Times, “I guess most people believe in the public school system.”
Why the High Superintendent Salaries?
A 2006 survey by the New York State Council of School Superintendents found that more districts are offering higher salaries to keep their school superintendents because of the following changes:
- People take these jobs later in life.
- The average age of superintendents is increasing.
- The average tenure of a school superintendent is shorter.
Interestingly, while the Chicago Tribune last year reported similarly high top superintendent salaries in Illinois, the Chicago Public Schools went in the other direction: the CPS CEO (their title for the superintendent) was only 36 when he was hired, and only earned $208,000 for 2005-2006.
I am guessing Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan’s job is harder than that of any of the superintendents in Westchester Country 🙂
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Dr. Al Lee