Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Superintendent's Salary and Benefits


A test of whether superintendent pay correlates with academic achievement used scores on Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) mathematics test. Meier and Wilkins found only a weak correlation that was not statistically significant. The method employed here tested whether improved test scores led to a larger increase in salary, and the analysis shows no measurable relationship between changes in superintendent salary and student achievement on the MAP mathematics test.

Superintendent contracts vary greatly in length, but almost all specify duration, responsibilities, salary, benefits, days off, evaluation process, and termination conditions. Contracts allow for an examination of non-salary benefits and the evaluation methods used by school boards. Nearly all included a clause to ensure that a superintendent would never be paid less in the future than the amount awarded in the current contract, but roughly 14 percent were given raises based on their annual evaluations.

Superintendents receive a wide range of non-salary benefits: 23 percent receive a car allowance, 6.2 percent receive a car from the district, and 6.9 percent receive additional monetary compensation, through annuities. According to three superintendents contacted for the study, annuities are used to offset the compensation differences between public school superintendents and the amount that an individual charged with running a similarly sized corporation would be paid.

Because superintendent salaries are public information, disguising a portion of compensation as annuity payments could also serve as a means by which school boards and superintendents attempt to avoid a measure of public scrutiny.


Salary is not the only form of compensation that superintendents receive. To find total superintendent compensation, reporters, district residents, and other interested parties must look at each benefit package. Superintendent pay is currently correlated largely with the composition of the school district, but superintendents would have more incentive to implement policies to bring about higher student achievement if their salaries were more closely tied to academic results and school board evaluations. There should be a more open discussion about superintendent compensation, how it is determined, and whether district residents are receiving the sufficient benefits for the costs.

interviews and correspondence with public officials

McGehee, David — Lee’s Summit R-VII School District Superintendent. Email correspondence on April 2, 2009

Missouri Public School Superintendent Contracts

Salary can be just one part of a superintendent’s total compensation. As part of the policy study “Actual Pay: A Survey of Superintendent Salary and Benefits,” the Show-Me Institute collected more than 450 employment contracts and responses from school districts. The table below lists, for the contracts that the Show-Me Institute received, the salary, car allowance, and annuity amount awarded by districts to their superintendents.

Because superintendent pay is highly correlated with district student enrollment figures, student enrollment is listed in the table as well.

Unless otherwise noted, enrollment, salary, car allowance, and annuity information all come from the same year listed, under the “year” column. Academic years are noted by the end year. For example, the 2008–09 school year would be listed as year 2009 in the table below. Unless indicated, all car and annuity amounts are annual totals.

Salaries of part-time superintendents are noted with an asterisk (ex.: Albany R-III, $35,000*).

Additional Data: Along with the contracts collected, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) provided superintendent data in September 2008 to the Show-Me Institute for academic years 2003–04 through 2007–08. You can download that Excel file here. In February 2010, DESE provided superintendent salary data to the Show-Me Institute for academic years 2008–09 thorugh 2009–10. You can download that Excel file here.

School District    Enrollment    Year     Salary     Car Allowance       Annuity

Lee’s Summit R-VII 16,742     2007  $170,000   $6,000                 $16,000 CHECK

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