Proliferation of principals

Does Chicago have more "principals" than schools?


Why? Nobody has been asked to explain the answer in public. In addition to "Small Schools" (which result in three or four principals in one building, while class sizes remain the same), Chicago also has principals working in the central office and in the area offices. As a result, there may at any time be an additional 50 principals on the books in the CPS budget, while the CEO of CPS, Arne Duncan, claims the budget is facing another "deficit."

During the six years since Arne Duncan was named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chicago Public Schools by Mayor Richard M. Daley, the number of principals in the city’s public schools has increased, and the amount of money the taxpayers are paying principals has increased more quickly than that of any other group of people working in the schools.

This school year, the overwhelming majority of Chicago public school principals are being paid salaries in excess of $100,000 per year. Additionally, for the first time in history more than 100 assistant principals are being paid salaries in excess of $100,000 per year. A review of the Chicago Board of Education’s most important working budget documents, the “Position Files” shows how the increase in both the number and compensation for principals has skyrocketed under Daley and Duncan, but nowhere in CPS documents are there any explanations of why this was allowed to happen.

The median salary for a Chicago principal is now more than $120,000 per year, with the highest paid principals (such as Foley) now being paid more than $140,000 per year. Most Chicago high school principals are being paid $130,000 this school year. This contrasts starkly with the median annual salary of public school principals across the USA (less than $100,000 per year) and also with the median salary of public school teachers in Chicago (which has been dropping as veteran teachers retire and is likely to continue to drop next school year with an estimated 1,800 teachers retiring this summer). While Chicago’s principals are generally very well paid, they are often difficult to locate. The former chief of the Board’s failed high school ‘Intervention’ program, JoAnn Roberts, is listed in the Position File at Donoghue Elementary School but has been working at Paderewski Elementary. Many of the addresses and listings in the current CPS directory are simply erroneous.

One of the research projects Substance is undertaking for the summer of 2007 is to identify every principal in the Chicago school system, including the principals and other administrators of charter schools.

In the September 2007 Substance, we will publish as much of this information as possible, including with it a comparative chart showing how much the pensions of CPS executives (including principals) have increased since the Daley takeover of the city’s public schools in 1995.

In our study, we will feature school “campuses” (both regular public schools and charters) that now have two or more principals in the same place that used to have one. We will also identify the growing number of principals who are located in central office departments under other job titles.

Readers who wish to participate in this summer-long project should call the Substance office for further information (773-725-7502) or contact Substance by E-Mail at Csubstance @ 


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