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Posted on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Next Ann Arbor superintendent salary to top out at $220K

By Danielle Arndt

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.


Superintendent Patricia Green listens to community members voice their concerns about the budget at Wednesday's regular Board of Education meeting.

Courtney Sacco |

The range is $25,000 to $65,000 less than outgoing Superintendent Patricia Green salary. It brings the district closer to the $175,000 base superintendent salary the Ann Arbor Public Schools had when Todd Roberts was in office. It also brings the district more in line with other superintendents in the county, who earn on average about $140,000.

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.


School board President Deb Mexicotte addresses her fellow trustees at the regular Board of Education meeting Wednesday night.

Courtney Sacco |

Stead asked if the board was OK with saying it did not want that caliber of candidate.

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.

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



Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

The experience of Dr. Green's tenure with the district should illustrate the folly of believing that high salaries only bring the best. Dr. Green was the highest paid superintendent in Michigan and she only worked a 4-day week. She is breaking her contract to "spend more time with her family and friends" and my question is why is she not being sued for breaking the contract? My first impression of Ann Arbor Public Schools Administration when I first moved to Ann Arbor was that they were the very personification of the expression, "Penny wise and Pound foolish." They have wasted huge sums of money on consultants because the highly paid employees did not have the skills to solve the problems being experienced. It's a district that really suffers from the Lake Wobegon description that "...all the children are above average."


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

to more than 190,000.00 to start.good evaluation=more money.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

Basing raises in the superintendent's salary based on truthful evaluations of the work done by the superintendent would be a very effective way to proceed. Nationally, teachers are being threatened that their salary will be based on their students' test scores, which is clearly NOT a true evaluation of a teacher's effectiveness.


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

Still too much. See excellent comments from DonBee and Goober above.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

The theory that somehow someone from the outside will posses magical powers that will cure a system the of all its ills is one that has invaded our society at all levels, not just at the level of school superintendent. This theory has contributed to the ever-widening gap between the middle and upper classes. We are asked to believe that only a very, very few can possibly fill a position capably. I find this very hard to believe. Capable people abound. It is often the people doing the choosing who are at fault for picking poor employees. Look for internal candidates. There will be people there who are capable of handling this job, if only the Board knows how to identify them (which is doubtful from what I am reading). It would seem that the Board feels that, by offering a salary that is way out of line, they will not really have to demonstrate any ability to irecognize real talent, that it will fall in their laps, thereby absolving them of any blame to be attached when that person fails to do a good job. The pay offered is too high, especially when the Board is talking about laying off teachers. The Board needs to be brave enough and demonstrate enough leadership to stop this absurd cycle.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

How do we go about getting rid of this BOE? Can they be recalled?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Excellent idea!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

This is a desirable position = we don't need to pay top dollar. Did top dollar keep the last one from moving? No. We just need to have a better contract that cannot be easily discarded. There are sure to be plenty of quality candidates that would love to come and work-live in our community. We are selling ourselves short and overpaying for this position.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

The mindset of this entire community is laughable! UM is always pushing to prove that they are the best by making decisions that impact the community without regard to what we who live here think about it. The city of Ann Arbor is the same way. Their thought is this - if we pay our superintendent more than any other superintendent, it will prove we have the very best school district in the state. In the meantime, they are contemplating laying off teachers and cutting programs. A salary that high is completely unwarranted and absurd.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

It would be very worthwhile to hire a superintendent who has a working knowledge of curriculum and effective teaching strategies. A person who was committed to bringing about real improvement of our schools would not be dissuaded by a reasonable salary.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Over the last several weeks, people have been talking up internal candidates, Ben Edmondson in particular. I have a dfferent take: with all the "dysfunction" (everyone's favorite word this year) exhibited by many in this community, it is pretty clear that we need someone from the outside who will stand tall and tell us all to grow up. Although we all share the heartache felt by the Clemente community, it is painfully apparent from watching public commentary at BOE meetings this year that Ben is likely doing nothing to counsel and lead the angriest folks, or if he is, he hasn't been effective. Anyone who wants to be considered for a community-wide position has to show that they have the skills needed to lead the entire community, not just one part. Rechannelling some of the destructive energy would show real leadership. What we need is someone who will stand taller than everyone else (figuratively) and lead. There are plenty of pages left to be written, and Ben might be that leader. Those who have followed his career are scratching their heads wondering when the small-pool brilliant will ignite into the large-pool supernova. Could happen.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

jcj -- would you accept negotiating for the new superintendent, and then live with the decision you make? I do not feel your criticism is justified. Maybe they could do better, but then that is probably true of most things we all do. Since you use a candle (and 10 cent one at that) for comparison, can you at least "enlighten" us (and AAPS) what you might do differently and why that should lead to a successful search? And do you guarantee that success? Is that not essentially what you are asking of the Board?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

jayjay I don't recall seeing YOUR criteria other than, throw money in the air and see who it falls on! I would 1st look for someone willing to commit to more than one and a half years.If they are not willing to stay for 5 years I don't care what their supposed philosophy is. Very BASIC negotiating skills do not include putting your cards on the table BEFORE you even find a candidate!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

jcj, sorry you didn't lay out what you determine to be a successful negotiation. What do you want from a superintendent? And specifically given AA's issues, what do you see as the solution that you want to happen? Then once you've defined all that, start your search and see what you get. But tell me what is the successful criteria you seek that are met in finding a superintendent?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

And if you can't see what they are doing is the wrong approach then I do not want you to have anything to do with MY tax money either! Simple enough?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Its simple jayjay! I do not go to buy a new car and offer to pay sticker when I CAN get the same car for less!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

With all the whining about the last Superintendent and her salary, A2 is going to have a very hard time attracting a talented Superintendent.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Here we go again--- a salary range in the six figures is raised and the claws come out. I recognize that if you earn $45,000 or less it appears that $225,000 or whatever is AN ENORMOUS amount, but the reality is that the work and leadership required of a superintendent is probably worth WAY MORE than $225,000. If you don't like that, get off your lazy behind, enroll in a University and do the work that would enable you to earn that "insane amount." You're not going to earn $225,000 cleaning the sewers (I know-- that's harsh and insensitive for me to say), so STOP belly aching about it. Go complain on blogs with regard to news stories about people earning multi-MILLIONS of dollars--- A YEAR--- and then come back and cry about a leader of the finest public school system in Michigan earning $225,000. big deal.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Murray - One of the problems when you over pay is the expectations are out of whack and the tolerance for slow progress is minimal. Whether $225,000 is over paying or not in your mind, the County average is around $140,000 for this kind of a position and the Superintendent of the Chicago Schools (A bigger district the last time I looked) makes less than $225,000. The US Secretary of Education is paid $180,000. What is the right number? I don't know, but I do know you don't pay every nickel you can afford to ever pay on the first contract, if you want to keep someone around, to tell someone that there will be no raises even, is a huge disincentive in hiring.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

And which superintendents job are you apply for oh wise one? Does not take a college degree to know this board has its head somewhere other than on the job at hand. You can be as harsh as you want it the statement does not make you the brightest candle in the room!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

After all, the more we pay, the more gooderer a job they'll do, eh?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

I like how everyone tells me I need to buy a house in A2 school district, then I read the comments section of where everyone seems to be calling for their heads on pikes. It's probably because I don't have kids yet, but this makes absolutely no sense to me.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

I need to call a plumber today. I will ask what they want to do the job THEN tell them what I will pay. I will not say I am prepared to pay $200 when they might have done it for $100.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Pay the Superintendent more money. Yeah, that's the answer. She is so good she will figure out a way to save teachers jobs, thats why she is worth so much money!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Here is my take. The BOE decided on $220,000 They will advertise the range of $180-220 They will give $220,000, or very close to it in the first contract, in the first year as base salary Then when it comes time to evaluate the person in the position there will be no opportunity to raise their salary because they got it all on day one. In 2 to 3 years the person will leave for another job A better way... Advertise a base salary of $150,000 (still above the Michigan average and above any other county superintendents) - also offer up to $30,000 in incentive pay for meeting certain goals. Pick 3 goals and put $10,000 in incentives with real metrics on each of those three goals. If the person meets the goals they get the money at evaluation time. The board can also offer a raise, that stays within the limits they set. Raise the bar on the goals for the following year or change 1 of the goals to something else, but have meaningful measurable metrics. You can keep someone in the job for several years because there are raises and incentives to earn. Give it all away on the first night and it will be a short relationship.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:22 a.m.

Short and wanting in competence.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

I really like this idea, I wish the board would consider it, but I suspect it's too late.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

"Give it all away on the first night and it will be a short relationship." A2 schools; the lonely girl with low self esteem. She just wants to be loved, but all they do is use her and lose her.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

The Board of Education seems to be settling in a range for a salary even before they have conducted the first interview. They just lost their leverage to negotiate the amount of compensation, no matter who is eventually selected. They should go through the interview process first, find the right candidate, then make an appropriate offer. If that offer must be at the higher end, then so be it. And then again, that offer might not have to be as high as they are currently discussing.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

This board is about as bright as a 10 cent candle when it comes to negotiating.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

And don't forget to curse the darkness.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

I guess I was not very politically correct.I do apologize to the candles.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

with sincere apologies to all the 10 cent candles. at least the candles have a useful function.....


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

"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" That brings two things to mind: 1) How did that "experienced, track-record proven, sitting superintendent of a larger district" work out for us last time? 2) That quote sounds like someone constructing an excuse that she can use later. "See, if you'd let us throw money at them we wouldn't be in this position!"


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

jayjay, you do not know that Todd Roberts took the North Carolina job ONLY due to money. Maybe he got tired of dealing with the dysfunction of AAPS. Or the Michigan weather. Or maybe he really did want to be closer to family. The increase pay might have just been icing on the cake. And believe it or not, there just might be people out there who still enjoy a challenge and would be interested in AAPS....maybe.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

Even though my comment above drew negative reactions, I repeat "you get what you pay for!" Why any superintendent would accept stepping into the mess of any district in Michigan is beyond me. It just is not worth it. The fact that Todd Roberts took a better paying job in North Carolina tells a pretty good story. The benchmark of salaries is no longer just Michigan, but it is now nationwide, just like the search. What Deb Mexicotte says is essentially correct. The truth may not be comfortable, but it is none-the-less the truth. And salary is not the only consideration. Look at the whole of the situation -- would you want to walk into that? I would say that the attraction of living in Ann Arbor is outweighed by the situation the new superintendent will inherit. Good luck AAPS.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

My thoughts exactly Brad! "A very good deputy superintendent or an effective small-district superintendent" sounds perfectly fine to me


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

Perhaps instead of taking away CHILDRENS music, arts, athletics because of no money we should consider taking away from this high salary. After all the schools are there for the kids and while the superintendent is important, so are our children's futures. Take away these things you will have more kids on the streets not knowing where they can turn.

Jack Gladney

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

$200,000 sounds about right. It's in line with what the United States Secretary of the Department of Defense, who oversees 3.2 million soldiers and civilian employees, is paid, so it sounds just about right.

West Side Mom

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Exactly. If we think money is what is going to attract someone to the job, then we are going to get a person whose first priority will be the money. Any notion of shared sacrifice will be borne by everyone else who participates in the district - teachers, students, staff. Kevyn Orr left a hugely lucrative law firm partnership to become the EM for Detroit and he's being paid $275,000 to manage a much bigger budget under much more challenging circumstances.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

Looks like the money needed to attract a top flight superintendent doesn't quite align with the spending cuts being proposed. Look at the Todd Roberts story -- what does it tell you? Look at what it took to bring Pat Green to AA. Does one not think that the requested pay cut to Pat Green may not have had an impact on her "retiring?" Seems to be a common thread here. And I must ask the question -- given everything that is being written about AAPS's financial woes, if you were a big school superintendent with a track record, why would you come to Ann Arbor to face these issues, the stress, etc? Ann Arbor is a wonderful place to live and grow up, but you have to have time to enjoy the life here. If all you get is one problem after another, one financial crisis after another, and no clear road out of the morass, the time you need to spend has to be compensated in some way. Think about it -- you'll get what you are willing to pay for. And is what you are willing to pay for what you really want? And to what extent was the fact that AAPS not laying off teachers allow AAPS to attract top flight teachers? Same issue? Our children are the future of our state, of our country, of the world. For them to be the best, you have to offer the best -- are we willing to do so?


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Seriously? And they are laying off teachers? And people are losing their houses. And we are going to pay a superintendent how much? Here's an idea. Let's raise taxes. What has happened in this world? Really.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Seeing that the Ann Arbor BOE is clueless when it comes to identifying internal talent that could fill the Superintendent position (the same applies to most Balas positions – clueless when it comes to knowing their own team members), what I have done successfully when confronted with a challenge such as this (having to pick a solution when I do not know the people) would be as follows: • Pick the best team facilitator in the current AA school system to facilitate a meeting • Invite the true talent of the AA school system to the meeting (all of them) – the school teachers • Notify the group ahead of time as to the objective of the meeting which would be to identify and select 2 to 5 internal candidates who would be a good interim superintendent • Notify the group ahead of time that this is the only objective for the meeting – identifying internal candidates • Provide lunch or breakfast for the group. Oh – yes, we have no money for this, but I'll bet that we could easily find several local businesses willing to pay for the meals on the basis that what is going to be accomplished is in the best interest of the community The end result of this activity would be identification of internal talent that can take the open position. Once filled this way, the group can then see if they just selected the permanent candidate based on interim performance. If the group likes this idea, I can then advise on how to pick from the 2 to 5 internal candidates identified by the teachers. Go figure!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:40 a.m.

I had a clueless BOE once: he kept showing up everywhere like a whack-a-mole with flowers. Hit him over the head with my purse to make him disappear, but he kept coming back for more. Then I realized it was just some poor Ann Arbor dry cleaner: I had dropped my laundry list, so he took the liberty of suggesting improvements and was obsessed with returning it. Go figure!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Thank you arborani. I would love to partner with others in the community and run to replace current BOE members, but my luck, I am the only one elected and have to then work with the other, current BOE members. A root canal would be a better choice.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Wish I could vote "up" more than once on this.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Makes way too much sense to do it your way.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

Perhaps it is time to replace the board with an appointed member from each township.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Yes, someone who Actually Cares about the kids.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Yes the AA BOE needs to be fired and replaced.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

A smart move. Now someone who would have taken the job for $150K will demand 200K.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Bingo! That is exactly why I stated the board has absolutely NO negotiating skill.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

You can tell that the BOE continues to act as 'it is not my money' on this issue. This range is too great and too high. Select $180,000 or maybe even slightly less as the wage that is going to be paid for this position and no contract. Normal 'at will' employment conditions should prevail.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

Those who can't do, teach. (not always true, but trying for some catch phrase completion here)

Jack Gladney

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Those who can't teach, administrate.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

Why announce the price range at all. Let's see who wants the job without a price range put in place. We need someone who wants to be here regardless of pay. If I had to set the starting pay I would range it from 180,000-200,000 and let the qualifications of the candidates dictate which end they get paid.

Howard Beale

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:48 a.m.

These people have to go. They are clueless and do not know how to negotiate on the taxpayers' behalf.


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

craigjjs -conservative by their very definition should not be on the public dole. And if needed , only used for a short period of time. So your argument is moot!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

@UsualSuspect Union workers are tax payers.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

That's right you two point fingers at each other while problem still remains


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

News flash: conservatives in positions of responsibility over public money never act on the taxpayers' behalf. Example: the trillions of off-budget dollars spent, lost or stolen for an unnecessary war in Iraq.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

News flash: liberals in positions of responsibility over public money never act on the taxpayers' behalf. Example: all the long-term union contacts recently "negotiated" between unions and public entities.

Nick Danger

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:42 a.m.

Let me get this right.The average superintendent in the state makes $115.000. Todd Roberts ,a very good superintendent ,made $188.000. The AA public schools is in a budget crisis and may have to lay off 50 teachers .However, the board wants to pay the new superintendent $220.000. When will the board discover it's teachers that determine the quality of education in the district not the superintendent


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

Yes, the BOE is clueless and acting because it is not their money. So - who is going to stop them? No one can!!!


Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

How about starting out with the base salary that Dr. Robert's had, and then after the superintendent has proven themselves to be good, get raises. One used to have to work and prove that they were worthy of a raise or a higher salary. Now it seems that all want a great salary with not so-great performance.