Next Ann Arbor superintendent salary to top out at $220K
After some haggling over the high end of the scale, the Ann Arbor Board of Education set a salary range for the next superintendent of $180,000 to $220,000 Wednesday night.
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
A recent database revealed Green is the highest salaried superintendent in Michigan by about $31,000. The average superintendent in Michigan makes $115,000.
The board set Green's salary at $245,000 in the middle of its previous superintendent search, before candidates had been identified. The salary was established after researching the pay scales of superintendents in other university towns throughout the U.S.
When Roberts resigned from AAPS in August 2010, he earned $188,000 and took a job in North Carolina that paid $210,000. Board members thought at the time that a more competitive salary was needed to attract and retain top talent.
The decision to set the salary so high drew criticism from the community at the time and that continued throughout Green's tenure as superintendent. Green submitted her letter of resignation on April 11, expressing her intent to retire this summer.
The new salary range the board established at a study session on Wednesday also will be commensurate with experience, allowing the board to negotiate a contract with its final candidate.
Ann Arbor school trustees had different ideas about what the high end of the superintendent salary scale should look like. The $220,000 the board settled on was a compromise among the members.
There was less debate about the starting point of the salary range.
President Deb Mexicotte and Treasurer Glenn Nelson wanted $225,000 for the top end. Trustees Simone Lightfoot and Susan Baskett said $210,000 to $215,000, tops. Vice President Christine Stead was in favor of $220,000, while Trustee Irene Patalan said $230,000.
Secretary Andy Thomas originally wanted to hire the next superintendent at less than $200,000, so his high end of the scale at first was $199,995. He later said he was persuaded by the discussion and the points his fellow trustees presented and could support $220,000.
Mexicotte said the board needs to be aware that the lower salary range will send the message to potential superintendent candidates and the community that, essentially, the district is targeting the very good deputy superintendent or an effective small-district superintendent — not the experienced, track-record proven, sitting superintendent of a larger district.
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
Thomas said he was. Patalan had reservations, however.
"That worries me a lot," she said. "The money we have to manage is really important to me and I would like to have someone who has experience in looking at the system and in reducing expenditures and who has done that successfully before and brought the community in around them."
However, other trustees felt the board did that in 2010 prior to hiring Green and that longevity appeared to be a growing concern among community members.
"We took a risk last time," Baskett said. "The constant turnover is something that the community has been saying it doesn't want. They don't want to start over again; they don't want to have to drastic change stylistically again... . I think the community wants to see a less expensive superintendent in terms of age — and I know we can't really do that, but they don't want someone who is on their way out — and in terms of experience."
The board discussed the idea of building a longevity incentive into the next superintendent's contract, in which the leader could receive a bonus after three years of employment in the district. This would have to be worked out during contract negotiations with the candidate, Mexicotte said.
She also posed the possibility of a merit-based incentive, where the board would reward the superintendent for completing a large-scale initiative that trustees established as a priority. Many of the trustees were intrigued by this idea and said they would be interested in exploring it further. Mexicotte added she did not envision this type of incentive would be offered in the superintendent's first year.
Because the board has made the job less attractive salary-wise, "I think we'll have to be very careful about making it less attractive in other ways," Nelson said, referring to what is offered as part of the total compensation package.