Harbor Beach School District has lost one-third of its students in the last dozen years. Yet, it still has had a balanced budget, didn't lay off an employee this year and got stellar grades from the Department of Education for its three schools.
That, says Supertintendent Ron Kraft, is why he has just over $300,000 in compensation.
"Who else in the state has lost one-third of their kids, raised their test scores and balanced their budget 11 of the last 12 years," Kraft said Friday. "Who has done that? Tell me, because I want to go learn from them."
Kraft defended his compensation Friday after a story questioned how the small district with just 600 students could afford it: www.MichCapCon.com/13604.
The state of Michigan gave Harbor Beach's elementary school and middle school an "A" and the high school got a "B." Kraft said no employees were laid off in 2010. He said the school board decided it wanted to keep Kraft rather than lose him to a larger district so it paid him like a bigger school district.
"They didn't want me to go to another district," said Kraft, who has served as the superintendent the last 13 years.
Kraft said he will retire this fall, take a required month off and come back with a lesser salary to save the district some money.
His annual salary is $104,000. He said after retirement, that would drop to $60,000.
But he did get a $30,000 annuity payment in 2009-10 and the district also contributed another $33,294 last year to his state Michigan Public Schools Employee Retirement System account. Kraft said his annual pension is still being calculated.
"Am I going to make lots of money? Of course I am going to make a lot of money," he said.
Kraft said he was able to cash in 82 sick days for $39,724 only after he had his merit pay clause removed from his contract. Unlike most superintendents, he said $49,200 of his salary goes to four hours a day he serves as the high school's principal.
"That's what happens when you do two jobs," he said. "Is that out of line?"