News Story

The Salary History of a Michigan Public School Teacher

A Saline Public Schools teacher that was hired in 2009 would start with a salary of $40,425 and see it rise to $111,750 in the 15th year, an increase of 178 percent.

The analysis of the hypothetical Saline teacher's career salary track was done by Michael Van Beek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The analysis was done as if the teacher's salary increases were based on the conditions of the existing 2009-10 teachers contract.

It assumes that the hypothetical teacher earned a graduate degree in the eighth year of the contract. About 59 percent of teachers have a graduate degree, according to 2008 data from the Michigan Department of Education

It also assumes that the hypothetical teacher didn't get any of the bonuses offered for extracurricular or special teaching activities. And the salary analysis does not include a salary longevity bonus at the end of the 15th year, worth an additional $2,579.

Van Beek wrote in an e-mail that most school districts have very similar contracts, with automatic "step" increases on top of across-the-board increases.

"This is a typical method for compensating teachers," Van Beek said. "The percentages will change, the step increases will change, but the way it accumulates is the same for most every school district in the country."

According to the contract, the hypothetical teacher received an 8 percent increase in years two and three, a 9 percent raise in year four, and 11 percent raises in years five through seven. After earning a graduate degree, the hypothetical teacher got a 27 percent raise in the eighth year and then got a 10 percent raise the following year. In years 10 through 15, the percentage raises were 4 percent, 2 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent.

"This is what our school boards are agreeing to. It is no wonder it continues to cost more to keep school employees working," Van Beek wrote in an e-mail.

According to, the Saline school district is anticipating a $5.4 million shortfall from a $52.4 million budget.

"People in the private sector cannot afford to pay for a teacher who is going to get 8 to 10 to 27 percent increases," said Charlie Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. "It's not sustainable given our current economic situation. At some point, this is going to have to be addressed. And none of this related to performance."

Saline Superintendent Scot Graden didn't return an e-mail seeking comment.

Saline Spokesman Steve Laatsch refused to comment.

Tim Heim, the Saline teachers union president, didn't return phone messages.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.