Education Policy Director Michael Van Beek discusses superintendent salaries on ABC-12.
Forget CEO salaries — the new controversy is over
outsized salaries for public school superintendents. Mackinac Center resources
have helped reveal that a few superintendents of small districts are receiving
some big compensation packages. Following public outcry at these revelations,
the two superintendents have announced their resignations.
When Flint’s ABC-12
discovered that the superintendent of 600-student Harbor Beach School District
was being paid a $300,000 compensation package, they interviewed Michael Van
Beek, the Mackinac Center’s director of education policy, for his take. Using
data that the Mackinac Center routinely collects, Van Beek compared the Harbor
Beach superintendent’s pay with that of district superintendents throughout
Michigan. He found that this particular superintendent was being paid more than
those in districts with more than 30 times the number of students.
After the Mackinac
Center's online news site, Michigan Capitol Confidential, ran two additional
stories about the Harbor Beach superintendent’s pay, the Huron Daily Tribune
reported that school board meetings in Harbor Beach were packed with concerned
residents. The superintendent promised in October to work part-time to save the
district some money, and later in November announced he will resign after this
also uncovered that the 2,000-student district of Coopersville also paid its
superintendent on par with some of the largest and wealthiest districts in the
state. His total compensation hovered around $311,000.
After this was reported by
Capitol Confidential, The Grand Rapids Press revisited a story they ran in 2008
on superintendent salaries and discovered that the Coopersville superintendent
had misrepresented his salary in their original story — in fact, he had grossly
underestimated it. A few days after The Press unveiled this disparity, the
Coopersville superintendent announced he would retire from the district at the
end of the school year.