News Story

Small School District’s Retired Superintendent Gets Plus-Sized Pension Checks

Sherman Ostrander retired from Edwardsburg Public Schools at the end of the 2017-18 school year as one of Michigan’s most highly paid school superintendents. His gross wages in that last year were $257,531, more than double that of some superintendents in nearby districts.

Ostrander’s high pay rate was curious because the Edwardsburg district had only 2,742 students.

By comparison, Niles Community Schools is 11 miles from Edwardsburg. It enrolled 3,654 students in 2018-19 and paid its superintendent, Dan Applegate, $144,475.

Three Rivers Community Schools is 31 miles from Edwardsburg. It enrolled 2,564 students in 2018-19 and paid its superintendent, Ron Moag, $125,000.

Ostrander was among the highest-paid superintendents in the state, even though Edwardsburg is in the western part of the state, where a lower cost of living generally translates into lower pay in both the private and public sector. And the size of a public school pension is mostly a function of how much an employee was paid in the few years before retirement.

Ostrander is now collecting a $167,450 annual pension from the state. That’s the seventh-highest pension of any retired public school employee.

The public school retirement system is $33.8 billion short of the amount actuaries estimate is needed to cover current promises to employees.

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.