The New York State Council of Superintendents (The Council) recently released its latest Snapshot of the Superintendency. The Snapshot, based on answers to surveys sent to the 700+ superintendents in the state had a response rate of 66.5%. Administered every 3 years, the Snapshot not only provides current data on the state of the superintendency, but also identifies longitudinal trends. It’s chock-full of interesting information for superintendents or aspiring superintendents regarding the current status of the labor market for the chief officer of the district.
The last five years have seen the retirements of almost 40% of New York’s superintendents, educators who began their careers in the late 60s and early 70s. When teachers retire, for the most part younger individuals are hired to replace them, tending to keep the average age of teachers in a large population relatively steady. What happened in New York State, however, proved to be counterintuitive: The average age of superintendents actually rose from 52.7 in 2000 to 54.3 in 2009. The Snapshot notes that beginning superintendents come to the position later in life and plan a shorter career in the position. More women are being hired, and women generally start the superintendency even later than men. As a result, the candidate pool has shrunk both in size and age span.
For several years increased competition for good candidates led to higher salaries. The Snapshot reports, however, that because of the recession, significant numbers of superintendents deferred or reduced raises. Still, superintendents’ salaries rose faster than the inflation rate as did salaries for teachers. The Snapshot notes that “the recent moderation in superintendent salary increases may result in compression in salaries between teachers and superintendents should the trend prove long-lived.” One might conclude that such a trend would further diminish the superintendent candidate pool.
The shrinking candidate pool has turned out to be favorable for women, whose numbers have grown as many more boards see them as viable candidates. In 1991-92, only about 10% of superintendents in the state were women. In 2009 that number had grown to 30%, and the Snapshot predicts that the growth will continue. Let’s hope so because women continue to be woefully under-represented as chief officers, especially in contrast to their overwhelming majority as teachers.
More results tomorrow.