News Story

Another School Establishment Ally Understates Michigan Teacher Salaries

This time in a poor district near Flint

An organization called Education Trust-Midwest, whose views are generally aligned with conventional public school districts, recently released a report claiming Michigan teachers are underpaid. Also, that the districts most affected are ones that serve poorer communities, often those with more minority students.

The report cited Bendle Public Schools near Flint. In this district 95% of the students were classified as economically disadvantaged in the 2019-20 school year, meaning they come from a household that received some form of social welfare benefits. The document also contained an anonymous quote from an undescribed individual said to be with Bendle Public Schools: “How long can you give a teacher $40,000 to $45,000 to $50,000 with the hope of attracting him/her from a Grand Blanc, Flushing, or a Carman[-Ainsworth] district? How do we get a teacher that may not have to work as hard in another district not facing the barriers to learning we do; and make more money than they would here on top of that?”

But teachers earning that level of compensation at Bendle Public Schools don't remain in the $40,000 to $50,000 salary range for long.

The base salary in the district for a teacher with five years of experience ranges from $46,134 for a person with a bachelor’s degree and $58,879 for instructors with more credentials, according to the union contract. By comparison, the base salary of a teacher with five years ranges from $45,308 to $55,283 at Grand Blanc schools; between $49,863 and $60,610 at Flushing and $46,568 and $58,394 at the Carman-Ainsworth district.

Teacher salaries at every Michigan conventional public school district are determined in contract negotiations between the teachers union and district officials.

The top of the union-negotiated pay scale at Bendle Public Schools is $83,078 after 14 years of experience. According to the state, the average teacher salary in the district in 2019-20 was $54,135.

In Michigan, school districts that are based in poorer communities receive more funding overall; they get a big advantage because of federal support. For example, Bendle received $1,889 per pupil in federal money in 2019-20, far more than Grand Blanc ($369), Flushing ($569) and Carman-Ainsworth ($947).

When all funding sources are counted, in 2019-20, Bendle schools received $14,009 in taxpayer funding on a per-pupil basis (includes revenue from local, state and federal sources). The other three districts mentioned in the report enrolled fewer children from low income households and so received less funding: Grand Blanc ($12,795 per pupil), Flushing ($12,144) and Carman-Ainsworth ($13,038).

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.