Chicago Principals & Administrators Association



Press Release: CPS Principal & Asst Principal Compensation Falls Short


October 18, 2017

Troy LaRaviere, President
Chicago Principals and Administrators Association
(312) 263-7767

While CPAA was encouraged last year when CPS finally turned its attention to addressing the compensation of school principals and assistant principals, the plan they put forth is inadequate at best and negligent at worst. During the 2016-2017 school year, CPAA proactively established its own principal compensation team and shared our findings and recommendations with CPS to ensure the process was thorough, inclusive, objective, and based upon sound data.

However, the new compensation system CPS has set forth does a disservice to Chicago’s students. We find the new compensation system lacking in three areas: 1) new salaries remain uncompetitive; 2) working conditions remain deplorable; and 3) the new compensation system maintains a strong disincentive for assistant principals to become principals.  


Over the years, principals and assistant principals who serve Chicago’s students have lost tens of thousands of dollars in salary increases they never received as a result of a freeze that has been in place since Mayor Emanuel took office. This means CPS principals lag far behind neighboring districts. As of the 2016-2017 school year, there were at least 54 school districts within a 15 to 45 minute driving distance of Chicago whose median principal salaries were higher than those of CPS principals. In 22 of those districts, principals earned $20,000 more; principals in a dozen districts took home $40,000 more than CPS principals; and in eight districts principals took home $50,000 to $65,000 more per year than CPS principals. The new compensation system does next to nothing to change this.


Not only do CPS principals typically serve more challenging students than the average Illinois district, but there is a profound lack of staffing support for CPS principals and assistant principals. The most recent Illinois State Board of Education data (2015-2016) ranks CPS 849 out of 854 school districts in the ratio of students to certified staff. While the average 600-student school in Illinois has 58 staff members, the average 600-student school in CPS has just 38. This divestment results in deplorable working conditions for the school leaders who serve Chicago’s students. Although it is a sacrifice they should not be asked to make, many of our principals have stated they would be willing to forego a raise in exchange for getting staffing levels up to the state average. That would mean 20 more staff members in each school. The new compensation system does absolutely nothing to change this gross neglect of the schools led by our principals and assistant principals.


Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the new system is the perverse disincentive CPS has used against assistant principals. While CPS claims that assistant principals salary increases will encourage career growth, their new compensation plan will do the exact opposite. Current CPS assistant principals continue to receive a pension contribution from CPS. As you may recall, new employees hired after January 2017 will not receive the CPS-sponsored contribution. Under the new compensation system, the consequence for an assistant principal who moves on to a principal role will be that they are treated as a new employee, and the pension contribution will be stripped from them. Even if they have been working in CPS for decades, they will not continue to receive the CPS-sponsored pension contribution should they decide to become a principal. This policy is both backward and bizarre. One would be hard-pressed to imagine that any institution — public or private — would put such a monumental disincentive in the way of talented people, as they seek to assume greater responsibility and leadership.


Troy LaRaviere