Broadband and network capacity is the top priority for IT leaders in 2016, while securing student data remains a pressing concern. Those were two of the 10 key findings highlighted in the Consortium for School Networking’s fourth K–12 IT Leadership Survey Report, which was released on Monday in conjunction with the opening of CoSN’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Even more startling: The survey highlighted a deep lack of racial diversity in the field. “Ninety percent of IT leaders are white,” said Tom Ryan, chief executive officer of the eLearn Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of digital learning tools. Ryan read the top results of the survey during Monday’s opening plenary session.
In the survey, more than 500 IT leaders offer information about their challenges and priorities, salaries and budgets. To assess those filling current IT leadership roles, the survey also delved into the respondents’ professional backgrounds, education and years of experience.
“New to this year’s survey are questions about how districts assess the impact of technology, what support is provided to emerging leaders, what policies are in place regarding students’ use of personal devices in school and what role IT leaders play in districts’ digital content purchasing decisions,” the report states. “As districts increasingly integrate technology for instruction as well as back-end administrative operations, it is essential that we have a clear understanding of the realities faced by K–12 IT leaders.”
Those realities include a lack of racial diversity, lower pay than IT counterparts in the private sector and a different path to IT leadership based on gender, but they also include future-forward plans for IT resources, as well as thoughtful consideration for evolving technology-based curricula.
Interestingly, salaries are lower for IT directors in the K–12 sector than outside of it, the survey points out. A chief information technology officer in the private sector makes a median annual income of $258,969. The majority of survey respondents, on the other hand, make $99,999 or less per year, with many under $70,000.
“Even higher ed IT leaders, with an average CIO salary of $149,597, earn more than their counterparts in K–12,” the report points out.
Despite this pay disparity, K–12 leaders continue to be well educated, exceeding national averages in that regard. “Over the years, results from the survey show IT Leaders are a well-educated group, with at least 75 percent having some college beyond their bachelor’s degree,” the report states.
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