Detroit Public Schools revamped its pay scale for its principals in 2010, and that led to twice as many DPS employees earning six-figure salaries, according to school salary documents.
In 2009, Detroit Public Schools had 50 employees making six figures, including three principals. In 2010, that number of $100,000-plus employees jumped to 99 and included 52 principals. The district's deficit grew from $110 million in 2010 to today’s $327 million.
“DPS completely reworked school principal contracts this year to a new performance-based model that is also 12-month as opposed to 10-month work period and created a new salary scale based on comparative salary data and equity adjustments,” Steven Wasko, DPS chief communications officer, wrote in an-email.
Wasko also noted that 100 employees with six-figure incomes is far less than the 140 DPS employees who earned $100,000 or more in 2005.
Michigan Capitol Confidential filed a Freedom of Information request for DPS salary data from 2009 and earlier. DPS had 50 employees making six figures in 2009. State law requires the DPS website to list employees making $100,000 or more, and there were 99 employees who made $100,000 or more in 2010.
“It is discouraging to see how incredibly difficult it is to bring rational financial decisions to the Detroit Public Schools,” said Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. “It seems that government studies always conclude that their top people are underpaid every single time. Have you ever seen a study conducted that has concluded that they are overpaid?”
Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, discovered that number of DPS employees making more than $100,000 had doubled in one year.
“DPS should explain why handing out pay raises to principals helped the district improve student learning and eliminate a $300 million deficit, because it’s not very clear from here,” Van Beek wrote in an e-mail. “And I doubt it’s very clear to other employees in the district and to taxpayers.”