ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) - One Rockford School Board member told 24 Hour News 8 the superintendent's salary of more than $200,000 is "probably a bargain for the results we're getting."
Dr. Michael Shibler's salary and benefits package comes is $290,445, the second-highest such figure in the state of Michigan, a database the Mackinac Center for Public Policy revealed Wednesday.
In fact, two of the three highest-paid superintendents in the state are in West Michigan.
School board member Randall Sellhorn told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone on Thursday Shibler's is a competitive salary for a superintendent with as many years of experience as Schibler and considering the job he does.
"He has worked for us 24 years and as a long-term employee, we want to hang on to those," said Sellhorn. He pointed out it's common for superintendents to last five or seven years at a school district.
Sellhorn also pointed out that Shibler's salary compared to a similar job in the private sector -- i.e. a job in charge of as large of a budget with as many employees -- is a fraction of what it could be.
"I've never in 29 years as being a superintendent tried to dodge that [question of salary] and if somebody wants to know, here it is," Shibler told 24 Hour News 8. "I do receive a very nice salary comparatively speaking, I guess, across the state of Michigan, but the Board believes my compensation is commensurate with what I've achieved as superintendent of schools."
The school board member said that Shibler is worth that price, pointing to the successes the district has seen. According to the state, Rockford performed better than 97% of other schools in the state.
Shibler doesn't take complete credit for that, saying parents and staff are part of a three-legged stool that keeps the district going.
"If somebody would say something to me, this is what I would say to them, 'Look, I'm 66 years old. Probably I'd like to work as long as I'm a valuable contributing member of the school community, but someday I'll retire," said Shibler. "If you want my job, you need to go out and get the credentials you need, and get the experience you need, and the successful years of experience to get the job to start with, and then apply for it and go for it if that's important."
The highest-paid superintendent in the state is at Utica Community Schools in Macomb County. The superintendent's total pay package is more than $300,000. Rockford has only a quarter the number of students of Utica.
Joseph Krause, the superintendent of Tekonsha Public Schools in Calhoun County, received the lowest salary of any superintendent in the state. He makes about $85,000, a figure he said is "a fair price."
He told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday that he thinks his salary is appropriate for his 300-student district. He said he just started at Tekonsha, and "knew what he was signing up for."
As far as other superintendents getting larger salaries, he said that's up to the respective school boards as a part of local control.
"[Board members] are the ones who are voted in by the public -- whatever the school board think is best for the community and they can afford," said Krause.
Krause also pointed out that each superintendent has the right to apply for a job -- or not.
The third-highest paid is Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Michael Rice, with a $280,000 package.
Superintendents for Forest Hills Public Schools, Grand Haven Area Public Schools and the Kent Intermediate School District are also among the highest paid.
The full database
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