Study: Jewish community day school leaders are newbies


NEW YORK (JTA) – Most heads of Jewish community day schools are not themselves day school alumni, and most have been in the job for five years or less.

Those are among the findings of a new survey of heads of schools by Ravsak, the network of  Jewish community day schools that are not affiliated with a specific Jewish religious denomination. In all, more than 110 heads of school completed the survey by Ravsak, which has 135 schools in its network. The 62-question email survey, which was designed by retired day school director Betty Winn, was conducted in the spring of 2013.

On average, the heads of school earn $161,000 in salary per year, with great variation depending on school size. Heads of schools with 400 students or more earned an average of $248,000, while schools with fewer than 150 students earned an average of $98,000.

The survey showed significant salary gaps by gender, with women disproportionately leading the smaller schools and earning smaller salaries. Overall, the survey found that 54 percent of its heads of school were women. However, of the nine high schools counted in the survey, only one was led by a woman.

Additionally, while 47 percent of male respondents said they earned $200,000 or more and 16 percent said they make more than $300,000, only 20 percent of women earned at least $200,000 and only 3 percent earned more than $300,000. This, despite the fact that women and men are roughly equally represented among the 15 largest schools in Ravsak’s network, or those with 600 or more students.

As part of the compensation packages, the survey found that half of its schools offer tuition abatement for the children or grandchildren of heads of school. In most cases that amounts to free tuition or half off.

Few of the heads of school had spent much time at their current jobs, the survey showed. Thirty-nine percent have been at their jobs for two years or less, 21 percent for three to five years and 22 percent for six to 10 years. One in five was in the first year on the job. Some 38 percent of heads of school had themselves attended Jewish day school. However, 80 percent said they had previous experience in educational leadership positions.

“Many heads of school remain in their positions for only a brief tenure, which indicates that many schools experience frequent turnover in leadership,” said Ravsak’s report on the survey results. “Training and coaching of both heads and lay leaders are critically important to help stem the frequent transitions of leadership.”

Of Ravsak’s schools, 45 percent have 150 or fewer students and 25 percent have 400 or more students.

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