Superintendent compensation is slightly higher in southwest Iowa than across the state, on average, based on an analysis of area district’s contracts with school chiefs. The Daily NonPareil cites a report in the Cedar Rapids Gazette which conducted an analysis of superintendent contracts from 314 school districts. The Gazette requested records from Iowa’s 336 school districts, with 93.5 percent responding.
Analysis by The Gazette showed a median salary of $135,000 with four weeks of vacation, on average, and a variety of benefits typical for public school district’s de facto CEOs, who manage multimillion-dollar budgets and employ up to thousands of people. The 271 superintendents’ whose compensation was reviewed are largely new to their districts, with nearly half on the job for fewer than five years and 12 percent finishing their first year at superintendent. Many superintendents are splitting their time between two districts or serve in additional roles, such as a building principal, trends that are mirrored in southwest Iowa as well.
The Nonpareil conducted an analysis, based on The Gazette’s data plus additional reporting, of the 29 public school districts in its coverage area in southwest Iowa, showing superintendent compensation is slightly higher than the average for the rest of the state, although Council Bluffs may throw off the comparison. The analysis shows across southwest Iowa, the average superintendent salary was about $142,000. Council Bluffs Superintendent Martha Bruckner has the largest paycheck, with an annual salary of $215,000, although her district is more than three times the next nearest in terms of student enrollment.
The second through fourth largest districts were also the second through fourth largest in terms of compensation, although Harlan pays about $12,300 more to Justin Wagner than Glenwood pays Devin Embray, even though Glenwood is considerably larger than Harlan. Fifth in terms of enrollment, Atlantic, pays Michael Amstein wages that are more middle-of-the-pack despite being one of the area’s fifth largest school district. All three superintendent – Wagner, Embray and Amstein – took over their school districts in 2010. Bruckner has been at the helm in Council Bluffs since 2007.
On the other end of the salary table is Tony Weers, the outgoing superintendent of Tri-Center, who is paid $122,000, the least in total of any of area’s full-time superintendents. Southwest Iowa is typical for the state in terms of women serving as superintendents: Bruckner, Deidre Drees of Missouri Valley and Kerri Nelson of Shenandoah. The Gazette found statewide the rate was about 15 percent, and it’s about 14 percent in the area. National statistics are either dated or unclear, but the superintendency of public school districts remains a male-dominated field despite education generally being a female-dominated profession.