News Story

The 600-Student District With the $300k Superintendent

A public school superintendent in a district with just 600 students made $300,000 in 2009 in total compensation, making his financial deal one of the most lucrative in the state.

Harbor Beach Superintendent Ron Kraft's compensation is an issue in the state where the federal government gave the schools about $312 million to prevent layoffs. Harbor Beach is located on the upper north east coast of the thumb area in Huron County.

Kraft's annual salary for superintendent of $104,000 was only about one-third of his total compensation.

Kraft also received $49,200 for working four hours a day as the high school principal. Denise Kish also received $20,800 for her work as high school principal.

Kraft was paid $5,000 to check roads and weather conditions; he got another $9,204 for days he worked over the 225 he was contracted for; he got $39,724 for cashing in 82 sick days at $484 a day; and he got a $30,000 annuity benefit.

There was another $63,038 in fringe benefits the school paid for things such as health insurance, worker's compensation and long term disability.

Kraft didn't immediately return an e-mail Thursday seeking comment. His office said Kraft was out of the office. Harbor Beach School Board President Mike Delpiere couldn't be reached for comment.

Kraft did speak to a local TV station:

"Am I thankful and appreciative for what I'm compensated? Absolutely," Kraft told the TV station.  "Do I work my fanny off? Absolutely. ... I'm not going home at 4 p.m. I'm not going home at 6 p.m. and I'm not starting at 9 a.m. and the Saturdays and Sundays and holidays, that's part of it."

Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center For Public Policy, wondered how a district could reward one employee so handsomely when revenues are dwindling.

"Looking at the future for the revenues of schools is a pretty bleak picture," Van Beek said. "How they can afford to pay this compensation is something they need to defend."

Van Beek researched total compensation of superintendents at much larger districts and found most made less than Kraft.

Lansing's superintendent made $233,365 with 14,780 students - 24 times larger than Harbor Beach. Bloomfield Hills' superintendent made $285,407 with 5,570 students and Troy's superintendent made $268,197 with 12,300 students.

Utica's superintendent did make $316,113 with 29,700 students, making it 48 times larger than Harbor Beach.

In the Department of Education report card, Harbor Beach High School was awarded a B while the elementary school and middle school received As.

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.