Principals of high schools and middle schools got “a little financial breathing room” this school year, with salary increases that matched or exceeded the U.S. Consumer Price Index, according to a survey by the Educational Research Service.
For the 2007-08 school year, the average salary paid to a high school principal is 4.9 percent higher than last school year, the survey found. That compares to a 2.8 percent increase in the CPI, a federal measure that is often used to estimate increases in the cost of living.
Increases were also better than the CPI for the other three major categories of school leaders examined: junior high/ middle school principals, and assistant principals in both middle and high schools.
The research service, which is based in Alexandria, Va., and made up of representatives of major national associations representing school administrators, has surveyed public school districts on their professional and support employees’ pay since 1973. It randomly selects a stratified sample of school districts of varying enrollment size.
For junior high and middle school principals, the average salary for 2007-08 is $91,334. For senior high school principals, the average is $97,486. The average salaries of assistant principals for this school year are $76,053 at the junior high and middle school level and $79,391 at the high school level.
An annual survey tracks the salaries of middle and high school principals.
SOURCE: Educational Research Service
The survey found that salaries varied by geographic area, with administrators in the West, Midwest, and New England having the highest pay and those in the Southwest and Rocky Mountains the lowest. The size of a school district also affects how much school leaders earn: Principals in districts with more than 2,500 students make more than $100,000, on average, while those in districts smaller than 2,500 students make about 20 percent less.
The survey also looked at how much districts spend per pupil, finding that those spending more than $10,000 per student pay higher salaries than districts that spend less.
A version of this article appeared in the March 12, 2008 edition of Education Week