Urban School Superintendents Hard to Keep

St. Louis is looking for its eighth school superintendent since 2003. Kansas City is on its 25th superintendent in 39 years.

Despite good salaries and plenty of perks, a recent study found that the average urban superintendent nationwide stays on the job only about three years — which educators say isn’t enough time to enact meaningful, long-lasting reform.

“Would you buy Coca-Cola if they changed CEOs every year?” asked Diana Bourisaw, who left as St. Louis superintendent in July after two years in the top job. “The answer is no. I wouldn’t.”

On Friday, Kelvin Adams signed a three-year contract with the St. Louis district worth $225,000 annually plus bonus incentives, a day after his hiring was approved by a state-appointed board that oversees the district.

Academic accountability is the new national mantra in public education, and low-performing districts are placing high salaries and higher demands on their superintendents—who find themselves caught between factions of publicly elected school boards, teachers’ unions and parent groups.

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(USA TODAY 09.28.08)

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