In the Midland Public Schools, there's an oddity in teacher pay: Four teachers make more per hour than the district's superintendent did in 2009.
Two high school, one elementary and one middle school teacher earn between $102 and $111 per hour, according to information provided by the district. Superintendent Carl Ellinger made $101.32 per hour.
Ellinger's total compensation of $210,751 — which included retirement and annuity payments, benefits, FICA and Medicare payments by the district — was more than the teachers'. But the four teachers ended up making more per hour because they were contracted 186 days in comparison to Ellinger's 260 days.
Ellinger said that if teachers are making $100 plus per hour, it is because they are taking on responsibilities other than teaching.
"They are not being paid that salary just for their teaching duties," Ellinger said. "It is additional things they do outside their normal working day. ... They are coaches of multiple sports."
"I don't begrudge educators and what they make," Ellinger said. "They work hard for their money. We feel we compensate our employees very well."
Michael Van Beek, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's director of education policy, said the per-hour rates are typical of how school district compensate employees for longevity.
For example, Van Beek did an analysis of what a teacher hired in 2009 in the Saline Public Schools would make over 15 years under the terms of the 2009 union contract that entire span. He found that the teacher would start at $40,425 and after 15 years have a salary of $111,750.
"The compensation structure for teachers is such that as long as you remain in the system and put the years in, your pay and compensation will get to the point where your pay per hour is more than the superintendent's," Van Beek said. "And that's all just for putting in your hours."
Leon Drolet, director of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said the problem is that there was no connection between pay and performance in public schools.
"The connection is between pay and union contacts," Drolet said. "There may be some teachers that are worth much more than they are getting paid. We end up with a pay scale that has absolutely nothing to do with educating kids."