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Did your superintendent get a raise this year?

By   /   December 22, 2011  /   News  /   7 Comments

More than two-thirds of school superintendents are taking home more money this year than last year, according to data provided by the State Department of Education and compiled by Oklahoma Watchdog.  This, despite an appropriations cut of 4% or nearly $100-million to the State Department of Education this year.

How much does your superintendent make?

Every year, the State Department of Education releases a report showing the total compensation for district superintendents (click here to see the original report).  But the report only has one year’s worth of data, is not in a sortable spreadsheet and lists the districts grouped by county rather than in alphabetical order.  Oklahoma Watchdog has compiled four years of salary data and put it into one report which you can see by clicking here.  (The spreadsheet that the report is based on cannot be uploaded to the website, but is available on request by emailing peter@oklahomawatchdog.org)

There are 522 districts in the state, each with a superintendent.  Of those:

  • 356 got at least a dollar more this year than last year.
  • 289 got at least $100 more this year than last year.
  • 208 got at least $1,000 more this year than last year.
  • 93 got at least $5,000 more this year than last year.
  • 49 got at least $10,000 more this year than last year.
  • 20 got at least $15,000 more this year than last year.
  • 9 got at least $20,000 more this year than last year.
  • 26 are making the exact amount they made last year
  • 140 got at least $1 less this year than last year.
  • 132 got at least $100 less this year than last year.
  • 107 got at least $1,000 less this year than last year.
  • 70 got at least $5,000 less this year than last year.
  • 39 got at least $10,000 less this year than last year.
  • 30 got at least $15,000 less this year than last year.
  • 21 got at least $20,000 less this year than last year.

Compensation is more than just salary

The report supplied by the State Department of Education gives total compensation for superintendents which is broken down into several categories.  All superintendents receive a salary, but some get additional compensation such as money for health coverage or retirement contributions.

In smaller districts, the superintendent’s compensation can be split between administrative salary and payment for being a teacher or athletic coach.  Compensation can also include a car or travel allowance (57 superintendents get one), dues for professional organizations (60), annuities or CDs (11) and housing (7).

As a result, there can be wide fluctuations in compensation from one year to the next.  For example, a superintendent getting $20,000 more this year than last year might be teaching in a classroom, replacing a teacher who made more than that for a net decrease in cost to the district.

Data is self-reported

The State Department of Education’s report is based on information each district provides.  Because of that, there is the possibility that the data is incorrect or incomplete.  For example, the salary listed for the superintendent of Timberlake is $15,000 this year while each of the previous years it was over $100,000.  It’s not clear from the report whether this is an error in reporting by the district, a transcription error at the Department of Education (perhaps it was entered at $15,000 instead of $105,000) or if the superintendent actually took an 86% pay cut.

In the same way, with so many superintendents getting fringe benefits like retirement and health insurance, it sticks out when a district reports only a salary.  Is the superintendent paying for health insurance out of the salary? Is it not offered?  Or is it not being reported, but should?

More findings

The statewide total compensation to superintendents is lower this year than last year by $105,000 but five school districts were annexed or consolidated last year (Boynton-Moton, Pickett-Center, Plainview (Cimarron County), Pleasant Grove (Seminole County) and Wakita).  When you take those salaries out of the 2010-11 data and only compare the 522 districts existing this year and last year, overall compensation increased by $203,000.

While National Board Certified Teachers did not get their $5,000 stipend this year due to a lack of funds, 93 of the 522 superintendents in the state got compensation increases of at least $5,000.

The average superintendent compensation is $98,434 and the median is $96,000.

216 superintendents received at least $100,000 which is up from 207 superintendents last year.

57 district superintendents make more than State Superintendent Janet Barresi whose salary is set by statute at roughly $124,400. That’s up from 54 last year.

22 superintendents make more than Governor Fallin’s salary of $147,000 which is set by statute. That’s the same number as last year.

3 superintendents make more than $200,000 (Jenks, Union, Ponca City) which is one less than last year (Tulsa dropped to $181,000).


Peter formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • It would be interesting to see which superintendents got raises just as their districts were being placed on the Needs Improvement list: http://sde.state.ok.us/Services/News/2011/AYP.pdf

  • Tahlequah Teacher

    Yeah, Tahlequah’s superintendent gets a car to drive (and he even got to change it one year because he didn’t like the model) PLUS lots of benefits and the board even lets him spend around $5,000 to attend various ‘balls’ and benefits that if a teacher attends the teacher has to pay for it out of their own pocket. PLUS teachers there haven’t got their step increase last year OR this year. And our superintendent even lies to our faces! But he has the board in his pocket…so he gets whatever he wants!

  • Rural Reader

    Very interesting! Many districts have frozen teacher salaries, but looks like they haven’t done the same for their administration. I wonder how principal and vice-principal etc. pay compares?

  • concerned citizen

    I am not sure why teachers should automatically have step increases at all?

    It seems teaching should be like anything else & receive increases based on job performance. Especially at a time when many people in the private sector have taken pay cuts just to keep their jobs and most pay a large portion of their own health (& retirement if available). Good teachers are worth their pay & then some, but to automatically hand out raises when performance isn’t there is especially unfair to those teachers who have always gone above & beyond.

  • Charter Schools

    What about charter schools they teach kids also and teachers are suffering! What do those superintendent make? TEachers at charter schools make under 40,000 and these people are making over 100,000 that is CRAzy

  • Greg Ray

    The most frightening aspect is there are 522 superintendents, @ average 98k plus thus meaning 50 million in admin salaries, and that is just super, what about all the assistant supers, add that, kinda scary

  • nick

    seems like the government is being unfair again , superintendents gets more compensation while regular teachers suffer.