Just what does it take to become one of the highest-paid school superintendents in California? Length of tenure, rather than performance of district size, appears to be the determining factor, according to a recent report.
Kristen Taketa of the San Diego Union-Tribune has an excellent breakdown of the topic in her article “Multiple San Diego superintendents were paid more than $300,000 in 2020.”
The numbers make it clear that longevity is the common thread among the three highest-paid superintendents, with each of them serving longer than the five-year term that the position averages. This is clearly a pattern in San Diego County where nearly 50% of the superintendents make more than the statewide average. What’s striking is that many of these superintendents are serving districts that are a fraction of the size of their peers while still maintaining higher pay.
One San Diego County school superintendent took home more than $460,000 in total pay and benefits in 2020 to run a district with fewer than 16,000 students. The average pay and benefits for superintendents of the county’s 16 school districts was $292,314 in 2020, Transparent California records show.
Some have argued that California superintendents should be making even more by comparing what they take home to private firms throughout the state. By comparing superintendents to CEOs, they make the claim that even more money should be going to the school administrators.
Transparent California’s own Todd Madison spoke to the Union-Tribune on the issue, stating “I think you would have a very hard time finding a CEO making what our superintendents make who did not have some portion of their pay tied directly to performance,” Maddison said, “not making the board happy, but specific measures that meant improving the performance of the organization.”
You can learn more about compensation for California state officials at our website, TransparentCalifornia.com