News Story

Lansing School District Ignores Law Requiring Teacher Merit Pay

Even after seven years, district 'does not have a merit pay system,' says spokesman

The Lansing School District does not have a merit pay system to reward top teachers despite a seven-year-old law that requires extra compensation for good performance.

A Freedom of Information Act request sent to the district was met with a response: “The LSD does not have a merit pay system for its teachers.”

In 2010, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a law that required school districts to give successful teachers bonuses, something often referred to as merit pay. The law was signed in response to the federal government’s “Race to the Top” program.

State law says that public schools must “implement and maintain a method of compensation for its teachers and school administrators that includes job performance and job accomplishments as a significant factor in determining compensation and additional compensation.”

Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul did not respond to a request for comment.

In the 2015-16 school year, 45 percent of the district’s teaching staff — 296 of its 680 teachers — were given the highest rating of “highly effective” by administrators.

Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said a good merit pay system attracts better teachers to districts.

“The old single salary schedule is an inefficient, unsustainable way to deliver education,” he said. “Merit pay done right rewards educators who make the most positive impact and discourages those who aren’t cut out for the job. Perhaps most importantly, it sends a signal that brings more of the brightest and best into the profession where they can hone their talents and help students learn.”

“Meaningful pay reform may not be the most convenient approach for adults in the system, but the potential rewards are great,” DeGrow added.

This is the first in a series of stories looking at merit pay systems in several of the state’s largest school districts.