Contents of this issue:

  • Superintendent defends salary
  • State may sell, then lease back, School for the Deaf site
  • Community library to staff school library
  • Study: Bonus pay didn't make a difference
  • Four new high schools to open in Detroit


HARBOR BEACH, Mich. — Harbor Beach Community Schools Superintendent Ron Kraft received total compensation of more than $300,000 last year, higher than his counterparts in some of Michigan's largest public school districts, according to media reports.

While some in the small district of 600 students have questioned the amount, Kraft says his pay reflects experience, workload and success, media reported.

Public school districts in Michigan are now required to post the compensation of their top-paid employees online. Kraft's base salary as superintendent is $104,000, according to television station WJRT.

Last year he also received $49,000 for handling some high school principal duties, a position the district does not staff; $5,000 for checking road conditions; $9,000 for working more than the 225 days required by his contract; a $30,000 annuity; and about $39,000 for cashing in sick days, according to WJRT and Michigan Capitol Confidential.

"It's appalling," area resident Sandra Glide told WJRT. "There is no reason for somebody in this small community with our base to make that kind of money."

Kraft, who has been with the district for 13 years, pointed out to Michigan Capitol Confidential that the district received high grades on its Michigan Department of Education report card, has a balanced budget and did not lay off any employees this year.

He plans to retire this fall and then return at a $60,000 salary, he told Michigan Capitol Confidential.

WJRT, "Local superintendent's compensation package draws scrutiny," Sept. 21, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "$300k Superintendent Defends His Compensation," Sept. 25, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "About half of districts posting financial data," Aug. 23, 2010


FLINT, Mich. — Alumni and the deaf community have mixed feelings about selling the current Michigan School for the Deaf site to a private investor who would build a new school and lease it back to the institution, The Flint Journal reported.

David Sanderson, the school's chief administrator, said he expects a contract to be signed soon between the state and Lurvey White Ventures, The Journal reported. The state Legislature would have to approve the transaction, the report said.

The proposal calls for the new school to be leased to the Michigan School for the Deaf for 30 years, but some in the audience at a recent meeting felt it should be longer, The Journal reported. Others were concerned that the state would discontinue funding and still others wanted certain items of historical significance preserved.

Sanderson said the proposal would forbid the new owners from renting to a different entity even after the lease was up, The Journal reported.

The Flint Journal, "Michigan School for the Deaf plan could move forward soon; concerns aired during alumni meeting," Sept. 23, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Seeing the potential in deaf education," Aug. 28, 2009


BYRON, Mich. — Byron Area Schools is contracting with the Shiawassee Community District Library to staff the school library this year, an arrangement that the district says will save money but that the Michigan Education Association says is a contract violation, according to The (Owosso) Argus-Press.

Superintendent Dan Scow said the district will save about $33,000 by contracting for media specialist services for eight hours a day for 190 days, The Argus-Press said.

The MEA has filed a grievance claiming that the teachers' contract requires certain staff to be district employees and members of the union, The Argus-Press reported.

Scow said the media specialist will not have direct responsibility for instruction, but will assist students and staff, manage the book collections, coordinate the computer lab and coordinate volunteers, The Argus-Press reported.

A hearing on the grievance is scheduled for November, the report said.

The (Owosso) Argus-Press, "Byron Schools contracts with CDL; union files grievance," Sept. 25, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Public School Support Service Privatization Increases 8.0 Percent in Michigan," Sept. 10, 2010


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A recent Vanderbilt University study concluded that performance-based pay for teachers in a three-year study in Nashville did not significantly increase student achievement, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The study tracked the performance of 300 middle school math teachers who volunteered to participate, the report said. One group received $5,000 to $10,000 bonuses depending on student performance; the control group received standard wages, according to The Press. It was up to teachers to choose methods to increase student performance, the published study said.

Citing an article in Education Week, The Press reported that academic increases were found among fifth-graders in the final two years of the program; no effects were seen for sixth- through eighth-graders. The study said that teachers did not feel that the goals were too high.

The program did not have a negative effect on school culture, the report said. Merit pay programs have been alleged to create undue competition among teachers.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Study shows merit pay 'no silver bullet' to school reform," Sept. 21, 2010

National Center for Performance Incentives, "Teacher Pay for Performance," Sept. 21, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "We Still Need to Reform Teacher Pay," Sept. 23, 2010


DETROIT — Two conventional public schools and two charter public schools will open in Detroit in the fall of 2011, including one sponsored by basketball star Jalen Rose, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The schools are supported by a $2.8 million grant from Michigan Future Inc. as part of a plan to open 35 high schools, according to the Free Press and Crain's Detroit Business.

Rose is sponsoring the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy through his foundation, according to the Free Press. It will partner with the University of Detroit Mercy, while Cornerstone Health High School will affiliate with the Detroit Medical Center, the media reported. Both are charter public schools.

Diplomas Now Detroit High School and the Dr. Benjamin Carson School of Science and Medicine will be opened by Detroit Public Schools in current school district buildings, according to the Free Press.

The schools have pledged that 85 percent of their students will graduate high school, 85 percent of them will go on to college, and 85 percent of those students will graduate from college, the Free Press reported.

Detroit Free Press, "Basketball star Jalen Rose helps announce new Detroit high schools," Sept. 24, 2010

Crain's Detroit Business, "$2.8 million grant from Michigan Future Inc. to fund 4 new Detroit high schools," Sept. 24, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Detroit Public Schools Students Bear the Pain of Limited Educational Opportunities," Sept. 10, 2010

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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