In Part 1 of this series, KASB looked at how school district superintendent numbers and salaries compare to all Kansas chief executives and employees, both public and private sector. In this part, we compare numbers and salaries of all employees, and how leadership salaries compare to all other employee salaries. We use data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, specifically the State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Kansas. The most recent report is from May 2017 (Link). (Prior year data can be found here.) The BLS estimated the total number of Kansas employees, public and private, was 1,369,110. Those positions are broken to 22 major occupational groups, including “management occupations” and hundreds of specific occupational titles within those groups.
We then compared that to data from the Kansas State Department of Education on school district employees and expenditures.
Here is what we found.
1. On average, school employees earn about the same as all public and private employees, but their pay has increased less since 2001.
The BLS estimated an average annual wage of $44,570 for all Kansas employees, up from $31,010 in 2001, or 43.7 percent.
School districts had total “full-time equivalent” employment of 69,111 last year. The BLS glossary definitions of wages, salaries and earnings appear to exclude benefits, and its definition of benefits is “nonwage compensation.” If benefits are not included, Kansas school districts in 2017 paid $3.063 billion in salaries to 69,111 employees, or $44,325 per FTE employee. In 2001, 64,150 employees received total salaries of $2.048 billion, or an average of $31,918.
That means average school salaries increased 38.9 percent between 2001 and 2017, or about five percent less than all Kansas employees, and dropped from about $900 more than overall average salaries in Kansas to about $250 less.
By the way, the consumer price index increased 38.4 percent over that period, which means average school salaries just barely kept pace with inflation over that 16-year period, while overall Kansas salaries rose slightly more.
Note: KSDE reports the FTE number of employees. Because many school employees work less than full-time, salary per actual “headcount” employee would be somewhat higher than the FTE number, which means the average salary would be lower. These salaries do not include retirement contributions, such as KPERS for school employees or any pensions or 401(k) contributions in the private sector.
2. School administrators earn less than overall “management occupations” in the state.
One of the employment categories listed by the BLS is called “management occupations.” The annual average wage of the management occupations group in Kansas was $103,530 for May 2017. Within the main management group is “elementary and secondary school administrators.” The BLS reported 2,370 employees in Kansas in this occupation, with an average annual wage of $84,280.
Another occupation within the “management” group is “chief executive.” In Part 1 of this series, we compared chief executives with school superintendents.
Except for superintendents, the only specific salary for school administrators reported by KSDE is for principals. The average school district principal’s salary in 2017 was $87,111, which is $3,000 more than the BLS salary for all “elementary and secondary school administrators.” The average principal salary would likely be somewhat lower if assistant principals were included. In any case, it is over $15,000 below the average for all “management occupations” in Kansas.
3. Salaries for all managers, including chief executives, compared to all employees have risen much faster than school administrator salaries compared to all school district employees.
The average superintendent salary in 2001 of $78,662 was 247 percent of the average school district salary of $31,918. In 2017, the average superintendent salary of $113,245 was 256 percent of the average school district employee salary of $44,325 – a nine percent increase.
The average of Kansas chief executive salary of $105,140 in 2001 was 338 percent of the average Kansas employee earnings of $31,101. In 2017, the average CEO salary was $170,170 was 382 percent of average wages for all employees of $44,570 – a 43 percent increase.
The average principal’s salary in 2001 was $60,465, or 189 percent of the average district employee salary. In 2017, the average principal salary of $87,111 was 197 percent of all salaries – a seven percent increase.
The average Kansas “management occupation” salary in 2001 was $63,640, or 205 percent of the average for all employees. In 2017, the average management salary was $103,503, or 232 percent – a 27 percent increase.
In other words, the pay difference between all public/private sector chief executives and managers salaries and all employee salaries in Kansas is wider than the gap between school leaders and school employees. In addition, those gaps have widened since 2001.