ASD superintendent’s salary is on par – if not low – for the role, educational experts say

Written by on October 11, 2021

Allentown School District superintendent’s salary is on par – if not low – for the role, educational experts say

By Chloe Nouvelle

October 11, 2021

A student raises their hand in a classroom at Tussahaw Elementary school on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in McDonough, Ga. Schools have begun reopening in the U.S. with most states leaving it up to local schools to decide whether to require masks. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Allentown School District’s (ASD) new superintendent, John D. Stanford, is set to receive an annual salary of $230,000. Given the district’s financial challenges, some community members have called into question the amount allocated for his compensation. 

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But education experts say Stanford’s salary is on par with the size and scope of the role in Allentown, and it might even be comparatively low. 

Marsha Modeste, assistant professor of education in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Pennsylvania State University, said Stanford’s $230,000 a year salary is not a number she would call “eyebrow-raising.”

“It seems to be on par, if not even slightly conservative, for the kind of work that the community and the board is going to be expecting,” said Modeste.

Modeste explained that 80 hours a week is a reasonable expectation for the amount of time a superintendent will spend running a district such as Allentown’s, especially early in their tenure. 

ASD is one of the largest school districts in Pennsylvania. Comprising nearly 17,000 students and around 2,500 employees, its annual budget exceeds $300 million. And according to district data, nearly 90% of its families are defined as low-income. 

“The roles, responsibilities, expectations for a superintendent, particularly now, particularly in districts that are diverse and are working to meet the needs of students who may have been underserved in the past, students of color, students from poorer backgrounds, really spreads across four broad areas,” said Modeste. 

Modeste defined those areas as instructional leadership (providing a mission and vision for schools), equity work at the district level, basic managerial and administrative work, and political leadership, which includes negotiating for limited financial resources from the state. 

Edward Fuller, an associate professor at Penn State and director of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Analysis, has researched superintendent salaries and charter school CEO pay in the commonwealth and said that superintendent compensation is often linked to retention. 

“If you’re not going to pay them a reasonable amount for that job, they won’t stay,” said Fuller.  

Fuller explained that longer tenures increase the odds that a superintendent will be successful in their role. 

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