Utica Superintendent Boasts Highest Compensation Package in Michigan

A new database compiled by the The Mackinac Center for Public Policy shows Utica Community Schools' superintendent earning $300,789 in salary and benefits.

Editor's Note: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy acknowledged that some numbers in the superintendent database released last week may be incorrect. For instance, the center's figures show Utica Community Schools' superintendent as being the highest compensated in the state with a package of $300,789. But the Kalamazoo Gazette said that distinction might actually go to its superintendent, who has a total package worth $344,667 in 2012. MLive reported that the center's director said he’s received several phone calls from superintendents saying certain information is not correct.

The superintendent of Utica Community Schools may not have the top salary in the state, but that six-figure number combined with contract benefits makes this position the highest compensated of its kind in Michigan.

According to a new database compiled by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and using 2012 salary and benefit information provided by school districts throughout the state, the total compensation for UCS' superintendent is approximately $300,789.

While Dr. Christine Johns' base salary is actually $194,400 – the seventh highest in the state – insurance, pension, annuity, travel and other expenses bring the lump sum to $300,789, according to The Mackinac Center.

Per her contract, due to expire June 30, 2014, Johns receives 20 sick days and 28 vacation days as well.

With 29,541 students enrolled as of 2012, Utica remains the second-largest district in the state behind Detroit Public Schools.

"While compensation for superintendents only amounts to about 1 percent of public school spending, the public should have easy access to this particular information,” said Michael Van Beek, Mackinac Center director of education policy, in a press release. “As CEOs of districts and often the highest paid government employee in a local community, superintendent pay deserves an extra level of public scrutiny."

The superintendent of Warren Consolidated Schools pulls in the second highest compensation in Macomb County and the eighth highest statewide.

See how other local districts compare:

  • Rochester Community School District – $235,679
  • Chippewa Valley Schools - $253,527
  • L'Anse Creuse Public Schools - $250,253
  • Romeo Community Schools – $194,342

Note: The numbers above represent the worth of each superintendent's total compensation package. Superintendents earn an average salary of $115,000 in Michigan, according to the database.

See the full database at http://www.mackinac.org/depts/epi/salary.aspx.

Gabby February 22, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Omb voters need to know.
Adams February 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Is this a big deal to anyone?
Sarah Franklin February 22, 2013 at 01:20 PM
This is a big deal in the context it vividly demonstrates yet another level of government out of control on spending steroids. In the John's example here the taxpayers pay for this "OUTRAGEOUS" salary yet they didn't directly hire her, negotiate her pay, or can vote her out if she does a bad job. The Board makes these decisions using other people's money so what is the difference if you overspend? Education used to be about the love of the job and the rewards of yielding well-trained students. Today, at the administrator and teacher level, it is all about how much money/benefits can they squeeze out of the local population, how much the retirement pension benefits will be and then how quick can I get out to begin collecting pensions for life. Just like the unions killed manufacturing in this country, the State (MEA in our case) and NEA will bankrupt municipalities in the years ahead.
trixiep53 February 22, 2013 at 01:31 PM
This matters especially when everyone around her has made sacrifices in their compensation ever since she came to Michigan and she hasn't sacrificed ANYTHING! The UCS school board is nothing but a dog and pony show that doesn't consider any feedback from the community.
teach4tomorrow February 22, 2013 at 03:25 PM
This superintendent is leading a district into a deficit- something that has never happened in the history of UCS. For doing that, does she deserve her job? For hiring her, does the Board of Education deserve to be re elected? This once prestigious district has suffered from Detroit politics for too long. The few at the top (NOT the teachers or support staff) are making well over 100k a year and have nothing to do with educating anyone's children. They justify their meaningless jobs by creating memos, rules, and headaches for the ones that di matter- the actual teachers in the classroom. You might as well call the central office of UCS "DPS part 2"
thomas tatten February 22, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Sara Franklin: What does the MEA have to do with Johns salary? She is not in a union so how can you blame the union here?
Sarah Franklin February 22, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Union mentality permeates the whole public education organization is my point. Many Board members are previous card-carrying MEA union members who have lived the mentality that you argue, bargain and strike to get what you demand, all with other people's money.
allison lane February 22, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Though 300,000 is excessive, people want well educated superintendents that dedicate 10-12 hours a day all year long and they don't want to pay for it. How much do you think people with doctorates that work these hours make? If you do not agree with the school board elect someone else!
Sarah Franklin February 22, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Your rationale makes perfect sense- the problem is we (taxpayers wherever we are) are always served up with an array of 'peter-principle candidates' for alternative School Board candidates. They typically have educational backgrounds but that doesn't translate to being good stewards of money. I would like to see a CPA or equivalent in these top administrative positions, especially in John's position where managing departments, process and money is the essence of the job. This position doesn't need an educator with all of that inherent baggage to take on a job they are not really equipped to do-- skill set wise at least.
Sarah Franklin February 22, 2013 at 05:59 PM
The issue of compensation for Phd's at the collegiate level, coupled with a very bad concept called 'tenure' is an even bigger issue than at the Secondary level. A good friend of mine is head of Board of Regents at major college and has discussed many times the root cause for college education skyrocketing; and it usually gets down to too many Phd-level instructors with too high of salaries, all protected by tenure agreements and in many cases in fields that don't even have marketability in today's marketplace. Example; University has 5 Chinese anthropology and ancient language professors each teaching one class because they can't even fill the classes up (no demand) but the University can't cancel the college courses or fire professors because of tenure agreements. So all other curriculums need to absorb costs and raise fees. Tenure is also root cause of problems at Secondary level in my opinion.
teach4tomorrow February 22, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Good stewards of money? I almost choked on my lunch. This Harvard-educated superintendent is running the district into its first - ever deficit. That has nothing to do with the MEA. And do you even know anything about the board of education or are you simply repeating Fox/Rush Limbaugh talking points? Can you tell me which candidates were "card carrying MEA members? Make an argument that you can back up with facts.
teach4tomorrow February 22, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Does UCS need a Ph.D. running the district? Or do they simply want the label? Why cant UCS have a community member, yes, even a teacher, take the duty of superintendent, be paid their teacher salary plus travel, and return to the classroom after they have served x number of years? You should have someone as close to the classroom as possible making decisions that iimpact thousands of students for the rest of their lives.
A February 22, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Go figure she is buddies with our lovely governor of Michigan. Scary.
Sarah Franklin February 22, 2013 at 07:22 PM
I think you missed my point. I was saying these current administrators are most definitely NOT good stewards of money and have no clue how to effectively run a business. But I disagree hiring a teacher is the solution as that is simply the peter-principle all over. Teachers should teach, executives should manage. Fire Johns, hire a CPA or CFA for $100,000, get better results and pay half the cost.
trixiep53 February 22, 2013 at 07:46 PM
UCS employs finance people to handle the finances of the district, it is the decisions of the superintendent and the school board that is ruining the district's finances and reputation! The super doesn't need to be a business/finance major to make the right decisions about the students well being and learning opportunities in the district. Would you want a finance major making decisions about a surgery you needed? No, you would want a qualified M.D. there! Sarah Franklin, you should actually attend a meeting and watch how the public's oppinions mean nothing to this board. All of their decisions are made behind closed doors and the meetings are clearly just for show. It's despicable that these are the people that hold our children's education in their hands.
Oakland Twp Resident February 22, 2013 at 07:53 PM
I thing Sarah Franklin needs to stop talking. Lack of knowledge and ignorance is blazing on the eyes
Mike Masters February 22, 2013 at 07:59 PM
You are clueless Sarah!
Arturo Spaccarotelli February 23, 2013 at 01:31 AM
The real question is what she brings to the table worth 300K a year? Because I know for sure that most teachers in UCS bring a lot to the table and have been taking pay and benefit cuts. So for 300k she better be providing an amazing amount of value, otherwise it is an insult to the dedication and work ethic of an entire district of teachers and administrators that are "on the floor", to use a factory term, everyday earning their lighter compensation packages.
a worker February 23, 2013 at 01:41 PM
please understand the above comment regarding pay cuts for teachers is absolutely not true. the truth is none of the administration or teachers have taken an actual paper cut.they actually want you to believe that because they did not get a pair raise that constitutes a pay cut.is that government thinking or what? I do know the support staff that was recently laid off cook a 25 percent pay cut in order to save their jobs. thanks to the greed of the UCS teachers and administration their pay cut was not enough to save their jobs.I applaud the Mackinac centers decision to investigate the superintendents pay rate
Tom Tatten February 23, 2013 at 04:20 PM
We, as a community, need to fire this school board and superintendent! They work for us. Johns isn't even from Michigan and it's obvious she really doesn't care about this state, it's children, or it's people! So we have an outsider we are allowing to run wild, cutting and dismantling our school district. Utica High School doesn't even have a swimming pool anymore. Lead by example Christine and show yourself the door!!!!!
Tom Tatten February 23, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Utica Schools had a $10 million surplus last year and has $43-45 million in the bank. CASH! Check it out. If you know your accounting, it is easy to find. http://www.uticak12.org/districtinfo/di_annualreports.asp Also, notice that you have to scroll down four pages on the link below before salaries drop below $100,000!!! http://www.uticak12.org/downloads/transparency/2011calendaryear.pdf
UCS Watchdog February 23, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Lets look at Johns' tenure at UCS and see what we are getting for our money. Morale has decreased every year she has been on the job. She has no leadership skills, only the ability to play figurehead and push her personal agenda. She has alienated and ran many dedicated, talented UCS "lifers" out of the district by running her administrators like dogs. She has brought in programs that are a poor fit for the community and set too many kids up for failure. While I believe a lot of kids are capable of more than we might think, not everyone is going to be a high-achieving student with advanced college courses in their future. She took a very proud, outstanding district and turned it into her own personal playground, with the blessing of Carol Klenow and the rest of the board. Besides her $300K + a year, how much money has she cost this district???? http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/eduhysters-of-the-week-tim-quinn-of-michigan-and-the-broad-foundation-of-course/
UCS Watchdog February 23, 2013 at 10:17 PM
The UCS school board is one of the most arrogant bunches you will ever encounter. Carol Klenow runs the show, and the rest of the board does very little to offer any other opinions. You can tell they are insulted when community members and UCS employees show up to the meetings - how DARE you question people who already know it all?
UCS Watchdog February 23, 2013 at 10:19 PM
It doesn't help that most years these people run unopposed......
UCS Watchdog February 23, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Tom, about your point to the UHS pool - many other districts turn their pools into money makers. I have heard from several people inside UCS that people has some excellent ideas how to justify keeping to pool open and turn it into a source of revenue for the district. However, any "out of the box" thinking is typically shot down immediately by a frightened administrator who is afraid to take the idea to Johns, for fear of their career. If it does reach Johns, and its not curriculum related, good luck seeing it implemented. In my opinion, UCS's curriculum was never broken - it was always one of the best in the area. The district needed a fiscally-sound leader who could keep morale as high as possible and someone to be a visionary through a difficult time in the community. What does the board do? Hire an outsider with a strong personal agenda with no business acumen and no people skills who is using UCS simply as a stepping stone. She has had wandering eyes since the minute she got the job. Its tragic she didn't get that job in Louisville, KY. Although I can't in good conscience wish her on any school district.
a worker February 26, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Why is it that all of the 4 HS had brand new heaters and filters installed... just a few years prior to the 2 pools being closed down. Maybe I'm crazy but ... aren't those items expensive? New wiring , plumbing and more... What a waste of tax payers money. Speaking of wasting YOUR money.... Has anyone ever figured out why the 4 new aux gyms were not built to the proper size? It's true.... HAS THERE EVER BEEN A REGULATION BB GAME PLAYED IN ANY OF THE 4 NEW AUX GYMS???? The answer is NO. Because the gyms were built too small... OOOPS... that was a million dollar UCS management mistake... X4. That's 4 million dollars of YOUR money... Wasted. Compliments of UCS mismanagement.
concerned March 01, 2013 at 02:08 PM
No more math/reading tutors, everyone has to take Algebra, para-educators hours cut and pay freeze - no money for support staff
a worker March 19, 2013 at 11:54 AM
OK everyone.... here is the truth about UCS teachers and administrators taking wage and benefit reductions. IT IS A FLAT OUT LIE...PLAIN AND SIMPLE. IT DID NOT HAPPEN!!!! PERIOD.. I sat in on 1 of the Utica Community Schools Board meetings and I actually heard Carol Klenow (president of UCS BOE) LIE to the tax payers when she said the following...."We have all taken pay cuts because none of us have had a pay raise in the last several years and we all now have to pay 20 percent of our health care premiums" Does anyone reading this actually believe that constitutes a pay cut? Everyone reading this also needs to know the support staff that recently got outsourced actually took a 25 percent pay cut in order to preserve their jobs. Not to mention they also voluntarily took the pay cut and agreed to pay 20 percent of their healthcare premiums. After taking those concessions Dr Christine Johns Hanes still decided to outsource all of them. How sad is that. they did everything they could possibly do to keep their jobs and still due to the greed of Utica Community Schools Board of Education it was not enough. Thanks to their leadership many past support personnel will soon be homeless.... compliments of Utica Community Schools Board of Education Leadership
a worker June 04, 2013 at 08:57 AM
I said it once..... I'll say it again...... UCS.... Un Common Sence
DMBN March 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM


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