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Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Some information in Mackinac Center superintendent database outdated

By Danielle Arndt

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy's new database on school superintendent pay includes some outdated and inaccurate information, according to an MLive report.

In a Kalamazoo Gazette article published Friday morning, the Gazette reported Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Michael Rice could be the most-compensated superintendent in the state with a package worth $344,667 in 2012.

The database currently shows Utica Community Schools has the highest-compensated superintendent with $300,789 in total compensation.

The Mackinac Center collected information in 2012 from documents posted on district websites. Information supplied by the districts may have been outdated or inaccurate, said Michael Van Beek, director of education policy for the Midland-based free-market think tank.

Van Beek said he has received several phone calls from superintendents saying certain information is not correct.

"I'm changing those on the fly and we're going to continually update it and try to keep it as accurate as we can," he said.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Patricia Green was still listed on the database Friday morning as having the highest base salary in Michigan by $33,000. Green's contract calls for her to be paid $245,000.

The updated figures from Kalamazoo push Green from the seventh to the eighth most-compensated superintendent in the state with a total package worth $273,551. However, a W2 tax form report obtained from AAPS Friday shows Green received $308,433 in total compensation for 2012, including $58,244 contributed toward her pension, $1,080 in long-term disability, $2,912 for life insurance and $10,247 in Federal Insurance Contribution Act tax.

Some districts' information in the Mackinac Center database appears to be from 2011. Ann Arbor's 2011 W2 report was not immediately available Friday to determine whether the $273,551 total compensation figure used by the Mackinac Center was based on 2011 data. But no changes have been made to Green's contract since she and the district signed it in 2011.

District Spokeswoman Liz Margolis said discrepancies in salary and total compensation can occur from year to year based on how many pay periods there are in the annual calendar. The number of pay periods per year can vary by one or two, depending on how the calendar year lines up with the start of the district's fiscal year, she said.

MLive reporter Melissa Anders contributed to this report.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

@ Basic Bob, regarding the comment in response to Patti: As a progressive, I do not object to the Mackinaw Center being used as a source. I do want Mackinaw to be correctly identified as a source with far right views, and for a newspaper to make at least some minimal effort to verify whether the data is puts forth is accurate. Those are basic elements of sound journalism. It's clear that Mackinaw, despite a huge research budget, just lazily surfed the web to get this data. As a result, there appear to be many flaws. didn't just cite this flawed data once, they did it again in this article. A decent paper would pull this and do a through review before posting anything.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

I thought that was owned by Booth Newspapers, which is owned by the latest incarnation of Si Newhouse's media empire. Is that not true? I do find it disturbing that uses the Mac Center as a source for supposed news, given that the Mac Center is as "nonpartisan" as Fox News is "fair and balanced."

Basic Bob

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

I understand that teachers would not want their students to use Wikipedia as a source for their essay. And that liberals (oops - "progressives") would not want a right wing think tank used as a source for their news. But facts are facts. Let's look at the facts. Whether it is J.C. Huizenga, Patricia Green, or David Brandon, the public should be concerned how its public education dollars are being spent. These folks are all one-percenters and are all happy to take hard earned money out of the schools and put it into their bank accounts. Why describe one as theft and the other as necessary and justifiable? I can't tell the difference.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is the 6th largest organization of its type, 501c3-W22, in the USA (sorted by assets) Click 'Submit' to see the list on that link. It's a Public charity: Religious, educational, charitable, scientific, and literary organizations...that deals with W22 - Public Finance, Taxation & Monetary Policy What's the largest organization that's the same type as the Mackinac Center? The County of Sonoma Public Financing Corporation Within Michigan, there are only 4 501c3-W22s (with revenue) that exist. The Mackinac Center with revenue of $3.5 million, The Center for Michigan with revenue of $4.8 million, The Traffice Improvement Assoc. of Oakland with revenue of $754,276 and the Constitutional Taxation Insititute with revenue of $2,000


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

Those who have been payng attention are quite of aware of what is goung on here and the question begs itself, why would continue to liberally (tongue in cheek) use any Mac Center proppadanda. Answer: is owned by MLIVE MEDIA GROUP, a Grand Rapids based corporation that has ties to some of the most radical right wing organizations in Michigan. As we all know, the demonizing and vilification of all things publicly funded is one the main prescripts of their agenda . Lets turn everything over to the free market and let nature do the rest. prints their propaganda because it is good business for them. The public woud like to see the curtain pulled back on the National Heritage Academy, CEO JC Huizenga (5 mil per annum ), corporate, taxpayer funded charter school scams perpetrated by Dick/Betsy Devos and funded by our current state legislature. These truths are not exposed because it is not good business. Printing Mac and Cheese Center for Public Propaganda is good for business, and creating anger and resentment in the uninformed masses helps them to justify their continued attacks on everyone outside of the 1% fascist corporate dictators that now run our state. We the people don't count anymore. And thats the bottom line.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 4:31 a.m.

question of clarification. according to their website "The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan research and educational institute " But... when I look at what they talk about... they seem quite political to me. False advertising? If people are complaining that Patricia Green isn't working on Fridays (an article on looked into it and she is working on Fridays)... perhaps then they can compare that with how hard the President at the Mackinac Center works. According to tax documents, President Lehman works 65 hours per week and makes $190,250.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

"That's a requirement for maintaining non-profit status. Mackinaw is very far to the right, with a tea party-like contempt for any and all things government." Question -- If that's true, then should someone complain to the IRS?


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

@ Kai: Non-partisan just means a think tank doesn't openly and direct advocate for a political party or specific candidates. That's a requirement for maintaining non-profit status. Mackinaw is very far to the right, with a tea party-like contempt for any and all things government.

Jim Mulchay

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

"Non-Partisan" is like organic in FDA labeling - it depends - it also depends on the reader's own agenda / bias - what is "non-partisan" to you may not be non-partisan to someone else. Don't put too much faith in labels - life is much more complex.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 4:33 a.m.

According to tax documents, most of their expenses go to 'Other Salaries and wages'. Listed as $1,782,601. Employee benefits of $218,926. How much do they spend on lobbying? $0 -- according to tax documents. They pay a lot in postage in shipping -- $257,548 and $286,415 in printing.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

It should be called the Devos center.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:20 a.m.

So how about and Ms Arndt please explain or justify using data from the "Mackinac Center" given their blatant agenda. Perhaps if the Mackinac Center is going to be a regular contributing member to this website can admit that and tell us what benefits they are getting from them. Does the Mackinac Center pay to spread their agenda? I'm beginning to think so. Why have a writer that covers education when it appears is in bed with trash like Mackinac Center. Lets follow this up with a opinion piece from the Chamber of Commerce extolling the evils of public education.. Then lets invite the Koch Bros to write a column belittling workers for having 401ks' or having 1-2 days off per week.

Basic Bob

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

Would you be happy if they start quoting DailyKos? Surely the MEA has no problem getting their propaganda disseminated. They can issue it as a press release and not provide any links to data. Funny when people are sticking up for the little guy, and it turns out they happy couple is pulling down close to a million a year.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

It all balances out. Earlier this week they had data information from the League of Conservation Voters and their blatant agenda.

Jim Mulchay

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

Along with the benefits of "electronic news media" there are some pitfalls. Just because something is available on the information superhighway it does not guarantee that it is current, accurate, complete or impartial;


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:27 p.m.

Obviously that Mackinac Fudge isn't for everyone.. Wait until the public gets a taste of their famous Mackinac "taffy". taf fy (noun) 1. boiled candy usually made from molases or brown sugar and pulled until light colored and porous. 2. insincere flattery syn. soft soap, sweet talk, blarney

Tyrone Shoelaces

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

"The Mackinac Center collected information in 2012 from documents posted on district websites. Information supplied by the districts may have been outdated or inaccurate, said Michael Van Beek, director of education policy for the Midland-based free-market think tank." Anybody who has spent any time on a school website knows the information there is most often inaccurate, incomplete, and out-of-date.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

If the Mackinaw Center's research is so lazy that it just gathers information from websites, perhaps newspapers shouldn't be citing it as a reliable source? Whatever happened to newspapers doing their own research?

tom swift jr.

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

If you're at all interested in accuracy or honesty, using the Mackinac Center as a resource for any kind of data is absurd.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Quite the impressive week for A big headline story that wrongly accused the superintendent of having the highest salary in the state, the source a far right think tank that seeks to privatize public education. And if that wasn't enough, another article accusing the same person of not working a 5-day week, the sources being "rumors" and " comments." The cherry on the cake? Even though the Mackinaw's data has been revealed to contain inaccuracies, you provide a link to it in this article. Amazing.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

@ Danielle: Has her base salary being the state's highest been confirmed independently? Or just by the Mackinaw Center's data? Maybe should hold off on linking to the data until it has confirmed it, given that flaws have already been discovered? My main point is that routinely uses data from a well-funded think tank that seeks to privatize public schools. In the original article, Mackinaw was just described as a "free market" think tank, a remarkably generous phrase. The organization has nothing but contempt for the public sector and does everything possible to shine a negative light on it. It is very well-funded and does not disclose donors. Also, the "4-day work week" article violated basic standards of journalism, as it used "rumors" and "" comments as the sources. In both the salary and work week cases, has taken serious shortcuts, not doing its own research.

Basic Bob

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

Wrongly?! She still has the highest salary in the state!

say it plain

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:50 p.m.

Actually, the articles Ms. Arndt has written have finally brought to "official" light that Dr. Green *is* going home (some) weekends (even if it's not part of an officially reduced workweek...Trustee Stead mentioned 'vacation days', so, okay, she's taking a number of 'long weekends' per month instead of a week's cruise or whatever). It is left to the reader to decide whether this is 'acceptable', it is left to the reader to decide whether the perception that Dr. Green isn't available on fridays and mondays sometimes is due to the travel, or to her management style, or what. I think the mackinac center info is only notable because it highlights how we have a very very well compensated Super and hmmm are we getting our moneysworth? The exact rankings don't matter and the political agenda of the data-providers aren't really relevant either, are they?

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

northside, we provided a link to the Mackinac Center database because it is being updated by the center, and this way readers can click to see any changes or updates to the database themselves. Also, Ann Arbor's superintendent still has the highest salary in the state.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

The Mackinac Center reports an annual budget of over $5 million, and claims to be "non-partisan", but they do not reveal their funding sources. It looks to me like they are shilling for a few big corporations.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

You can see their info here Total Assets $9.6 million Total Expenses $3.9 million Biggest Expenses Other Salaries and Wages $1.7 million Program Service $367,382 Printing $286,415 Postage & Shipping $257,548 Other Employee Benefits $218,926 Compensation of Current Officers $203,641 (Lehman works 65 hours per week !!!) Other $191,521 In 4a,4b,4c they explain a small portion of the expenses. But... that only covers $676,443 As compared to the total of $3.9 million Most of the expenses go towards paying people.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

The Mackinac Center seeks to dismantle and privatize public schools. Why does continually use it as a source?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Still dispelling?