IT Trends | Research

District Tech Leader Salaries Significantly Lower Than in Private Sector

The vast majority of district-level tech leaders say their technology budgets will decline or remain flat in the coming year, according to a report released by the Consortium for School Networking Tuesday at the CoSN 2013 conference, taking place this week in San Diego, CA.

The first-annual CoSN K-12 IT Leadership Survey, sponsored by Education Networks of America, was designed to establish a baseline for future surveys, collecting a wide range of data, from job titles and salaries to opinions on the challenges facing IT in schools.

Among other things, it found that tech leaders at the district level — commonly CTOs and CIOs — earn considerably less than their counterparts in the business world. Nearly two-thirds — 65 percent — indicated that they earn less than $100,000; CTOs in the business sector earn, on average, more than $190,000, according to the report. Only 1.1 percent of K-12 leaders make $160,000 or more.

The salary breakdown is as follows:

  • 30.1 percent make less than $70,000;
  • 35.2 percent reported they make $70,000 to $99,999;
  • 26.1 percent crack the low six figures at $100,000 to $129,999;
  • 4.5 percent make $130,000 to $159,999; and
  • 1.1 percent make $160,000 or more.

(The remainder preferred not to state their salary.)

More than half — 58 percent — report to the superintendent directly, and some 60 percent have logged at least six years in their present position (twice the "average tenure" of district superintendents). Most — 80 percent — head up both information technology and instructional technology for their districts.

IT leaders reported several challenges. The top 3 included:

  • Budgets and resources, with 76 percent of respondents citing this as a current challenge;
  • Transitioning to a student-centered culture from a teacher-centered culture (66 percent); and
  • "Breaking down silos" within their districts (40 percent).

There was less overwhelming agreement in the area of technology priorities. The top priorities cited by district tech leaders included:

  • BYOD (43 percent);
  • The impending Common Core assessments (35 percent); and
  • Increasing broadband access (24 percent).

"This first-ever, annual survey identifies key challenges faced by school district IT leaders and provides key baseline data around where we are with technology leadership in school systems today. The data will measure our progress toward making technology an integral component of 21st century teaching and learning," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, in a statement released to coincide with the report.

The complete report, CoSN K-12 IT Leadership Survey, can be freely accessed on CoSN's site.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .