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School administrators have a lot of weight on their shoulders, as they try to plan the best course of action for safe and effective learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic.   Like a lot of us, their jobs have become a lot harder over the past six months.  So how much do the top leaders in our local school districts get paid for their leadership and hard work?

Parents, lawmakers, media, and education officials can now easily see how tax dollars are spent on school district leadership, thanks to an updated database released by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Michigan Public School Superintendent Compensation Database reports how much districts spent on superintendent compensation, including salary, insurance, pension, and other benefits.

So which public school administrator makes the most in Calhoun County?   You might be surprised.   It’s Calhoun Intermediate School District Superintendent Terance Lunger, who makes $169,536.00 per year.

Calhoun County School Superintendent base salary compensation basically follows school enrollment.   Lakeview has the highest enrollment, of 4,070.  Superintendent Blake Prewitt has the highest salary, at $152,558.  Figure in benefits and other compensation, and it's north of a quarter-million dollars per year.  Battle Creek Superintendent Kim Carter is next on the list, followed by Marshall Superintendent Randy Davis and Harper Creek’s Rob Ridgeway.  Pennfield’s Kevin Simmons has the sixth-highest salary but is listed as the highest-paid overall, with other benefits figured in for the most recent, his first year, at Pennfield.

The database compiles the information from two sources: Freedom of Information Act requests for current superintendent contracts and district transparency websites. Nearly 90% of districts and ISDs responded.   The database also shows current contracts of many Superintendents, and also spells out paid vacation, sick days, and other benefit amounts.

31 superintendents in Michigan made more than $300,000 in total annual compensation. The districts with the highest-paid superintendents are Roseville ($409,760), Detroit ($399,010), and West Ottawa ($383,929). Overall, 88 districts spent more than $250,000 on superintendent compensation.

The database does not recommend the correct amount of compensation for superintendents. Instead, it serves as a tool for taxpayers to see how their dollars are being used.

“This makes it easier to compare how different Michigan districts are spending resources on the leaders their boards have chosen,” said Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center.   You can view the complete database here.

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