Local school officials say there simply aren't that many people willing to take a job requiring such extensive certification, education, hours and aggravation.
"People look at the demands of the job and say 'I don't want to do it,'" said Sycamore Superintendent Bob Hammon, who has been the highest paid superintendent in DeKalb County for the last six years. "You might be a little crazy to get into this business in the first place."
Hammon said he regularly works 10-11 hour days, not including evening meetings and school events that can be happening as many as five or six nights a week.
There are a lot of regular rank teachers who have similar demands on their time, who don't get paid that kind of money.
Beilfuss also contended that superintendents are now expected to spend more time involved with the community and that the job itself has become far more "political."
The Illinois Association of School Boards Director of Governmental Relations, Deanna Sullivan, points to an "aging superintendent population" as one reason behind the shortage of qualified superintendents.
In addition, requirements of the No Child Left Behind federal legislation, as well as state certification requirements, mean superintendents have to meet certain professional guidelines proscribed [c.q.] by government.
OK, EARN those large salaries. Step up and take some risks. Point out the fantasies of No Child Left Behind. Push for repeal of the civil rights and disabilities legislation that has become a refuge for disruptive students. Fire the diversity boondogglers, hand-holders, and assessors of the obvious. Tell the Colleges of Deaducation that their untested theories are not welcome in your district until there is solid evidence that they will work. Let the parents know that their children will be shipped to reform school if they don't shape up, held back if they don't measure up, and ready for university or trade school if they do both, and back that up.
Spare me the wishful thinking.
Joe Wiegand, a DeKalb County Board member and head of an organization critical of high education spending, said those government requirements inject an artificial pressure into the job market for superintendents.
"The market is compromised by barriers to entry," said Wiegand, who works for the Family Taxpayers Network and is a former Republican candidate for the state legislature.
He advocates privatization of public education as one way to let market forces operate more purely and thus bring the costs of education down.
OK, ask the Legislature to repeal some of those mandates. That will be easier to bring about than the privatization. And privatization will be no panacea if the privatized schools are subject to the same niggling by the same Coalition of the Weenies that has taken the backbone out of the government schools.
Since the late 1990s, there has been a state-mandated 5 percent cap on increases for school administration costs generally, according to Luke Glowiak, assistant superintendent for business affairs for the Sycamore School District. Included under that rubric would be superintendent's compensation.
There is also a bill pending in the General Assembly that is intended to limit superintendents' pay increases in the final years of their contracts by making districts responsible for a portion of their pension costs related to such big pay increases.
The bill was introduced after media reports of large salary increases for some superintendents that were designed to pad their state pensions, which are based on salaries during final years of service.
Oh, and do some research. Perhaps buying out the worst performers early is a good investment. I discovered that a fund-raiser for the University of Wisconsin had little trouble raising the money to buy out an underachieving -- I'm being kind -- football coach. (You could look it up: details -- the price comparison site appears to be hiding.)