March 19, 1997 2 min read

High school principals on average are earning $72,410 this school year, according to a new survey. It also found that high school principals got an average raise of 4.5 percent this year.

The survey of 952 school districts was commissioned by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Salary gains among high school principals have outpaced rises in the U.S. Consumer Price Index for almost all of the past 10 years, according to Melinda Brown, the director of salary-and-compensation studies for the Educational Research Service, a nonprofit research group in Arlington, Va., that conducted the survey.

“Compared to other groups of persons in education, high school principals are not doing poorly,” she said. Teachers, for instance, have not consistently made the same percentage gains in the past decade, according to Ms. Brown.

But the NASSP points out that high school principals must cope with record-breaking enrollments, predicted to grow by 15 percent over the next decade. Considering the long days that principals work and the pressures that they face, “the pay they receive is pitifully low,” argued Timothy J. Dyer, the executive director of the NASSP. The principals’ group releases the salary survey each year at its annual convention, which was held earlier this month in Orange County, Fla.

Principals and assistant principals at all grade levels are being paid the lowest in the Southeast and the highest in the Far West. Salaries in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states also hover at the top of the scale.

Compared with their high school colleagues, principals of elementary and middle schools received smaller raises--of 3.3 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Principals of middle schools and junior high schools are earning an average of $66,859; elementary school principals, an average of $62,903.

Assistant principals at all grade levels got raises that averaged under 4 percent.

More than 1,000 high schools have joined the National High School Alliance, the NASSP’s program to foster secondary school reform. The organization launched the alliance a year ago, following the release of its report “Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution.” The report, which criticized high schools as too large, impersonal, and rigid, was done in collaboration with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a think tank in Princeton, N.J.

The alliance is working to make the report’s more than 80 recommendations a reality