Here she comes to save the day!

Who? The superwoman, of course! Swooping in to save the Planet Ann Arbor school district. For a quarter million dollars a year.

Our wondrous school board hired a new superwoman last summer. I think she is about the sixth superintendent since the late 1990s. I guess the superintendent’s office has a revolving door? Anyway, our wondrous school board, in its infinite wisdom, thought it would be a good idea to pay the superwoman $245,000 a year. To attract top talent, don’tcha know… The superman she replaced was paid something like $170,000. Okay, here in the Great Lake State, we are dealing with extreme cuts to our public school budgets — 14 million dollars in our district this year. What did the parents, teachers, and taxpayers think about this? Not too much. Who was this woman? Why was she worth a quarter million dollars? She must be a superwoman! I am always a skeptic when a highly paid HMFWIC position like school superintendent seems to have a revolving door and you can bet I had a bad feeling about this.

What has the superwoman done since she began her tenure? Hmmm… I haven’t heard all that much about her. A bit of gobblety-gook about closing the achievement gap. Good luck with that, lady. Some “forums” to get “community input” on the upcoming budget cuts. Roight. Like they really want input from the community. Been there, done that. And then this, as I understand it:

  • A “deputy” superintendent retired last summer. (Or was it an “assistant”? I’m a little confused by the titles.)
  • The superwoman hired a replacement. The replacement is being paid $140,000 per year, which is 7% and 12% higher than the other two “deputies”. It is also apparently significantly more money than the person who retired was paid.
  • Oh, by the way, the superwoman hired the replacement without discussing it with the school board. A few noses out of joint? I think so.
  • The superwoman decided that the other two deputy supers needed to have their salaries bumped up to *match* the new person’s salary.
  • The issue was placed on the agenda for Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
  • At the beginning of Wednesday night’s school meeting, the board voted to table the discussion for the time being (something like that). A citizen attending the board meeting was told at 10 PM that there would not be a vote that night (and left).
  • At *1:45 AM*, the board president moved to vote on the issue.
  • The board voted 4-3 to raise the salaries in question before adjourning (at 2:20 AM).

(Two articles on

I would say I am flabbergasted by this but I am such a skeptic about the public process and highly paid officials like this in general (bank executives, anyone?) that I am just shaking my head in jaded dismay instead. What were they thinking? We are cutting cutting cutting education budgets all over the place. Our teachers, bus drivers, custodians, all of the little people are taking pay cuts or going without raises for *years*. Some people argue that the salary increases don’t amount to a lot of money. Maybe not but the message being sent by those at the top just stinks. “*We* are more important than those pesky little people, you know, those teachers and students“. If I were one of those top administrators*, I would refuse the increase and tell the superwoman that it is inappropriate for me to get a big raise when the teachers (and others) are not getting raises and class sizes are increasing, among other things.

I don’t know what the superwoman actually does to earn her keep. If I were hired as a superwoman*, I would come in to the community and try to learn what makes it tick. If I were this particular superwoman, I would be aware that many folks in the community are less than happy that their elected officials saw fit to pay me an exorbitant salary and I would do everything in my power to make sure I earned that salary. I’m just a baggy old taxpayer so maybe I don’t know anything but I haven’t seen the superwoman do much of anything yet. Except for this little scenario, which reeks of incompetence and arrogance. The phrase “piece of work” comes to mind. Seems to me that people like the superwoman are just modern-day confidence [wo]men. Hey, I don’t know what to do with your sorry achievement gap problem but I’ll blather about it and you can pay me to do mostly nothing for a couple years and when you finally throw me out, I’ll go to Little Rock or someplace and they’ll pay me $310,000 or whatever. Because my contract requires that you give my a glowing review. Blech. Blech. Blech.

It is particularly upsetting to me that I personally *know* two of the board members who voted *for* the salary increases. I mean, I actually know them pretty well. Or at least I thought I did. Why can they not see what’s wrong with the picture?

Sincerely yours,
Citizen KW

*That would be when hell freezes over, of course.

5 Responses to “Here she comes to save the day!”

  1. Margaret Says:

    First of all, is there any kind of a public meeting law there? There is here and our school district got in a LOT of trouble for voting secretly. They had to redo it in front of the public. I would check out what the laws are because it sounds like they violated SOMETHING, if not just ethics and good sense “laws.”

  2. Uncly Uncle Says:

    To get the best people you gotta pay. If the Board did their homework, they determined what a Superintendent for a district your size gets paid. There are surveys out there. Like any job, it pays what it pays. I always get a little annoyed at salary envy. I work with docs that make several hundred thousand a year and, damn it, they deserve it. We all have examples like this. We can all go back to school and aspire to what the high earners have achieved and I don’t think by any means it is all about salary. From my experience, in most cases, its about schooling, paying your dues and dedicating way more than a 40 hours over many years.
    Most people who have achieved high income status enjoy it for only a few years and have had years of much lower income behind them.

    I say good for Superwoman. She should probably get a raise.

  3. kayak woman Says:

    Actually the board DID did do a compensation analysis of other “similar” districts and, if I remember accurately, they are paying WAY more than what most of those results indicated. I stand by my assessment that this woman is not worth what she is being paid. There may be folks out there with the educational expertise to command that kind of salary but I don’t think she is one of them. I am waiting to see what she actually DOES! So far, it doesn’t seem like that much. She is certainly not saving lives!

    Do you think that Kwame Kilpatrick was worth whatever the heck Detroit was paying him? Hmmm?

    Also, I am NOT (REPEAT, NOT) envious of this woman’s salary!!!!

  4. Pooh Says:

    We actually did get a SuperWoman for our district! People groaned over her salary, and the fact that she added an Ass’t. Superwoman position. (“We never needed an A.S. before, why do we need one now…”) However, she has turned the district around in the 10-11 years she has been here. We’d had revolving door Supers before, including one who’s budget came up a million short (out of 8.5 – did you forget to carry the one?!?). Another one was seen leaving a married female’s house on a Sunday afternoon, by the woman’s husband.

    Since our superwoman came in, we have revitalized our physical buildings, district enrollment is up, and test scores are up, although the Entitlement/Achievement Gap is still there. Someone actually said about the latest project, “why do public school kids need this, this looks like a private school?” Are private school kids the only ones who deserve pleasant surroundings? (They moved the parking lot across the street, and replaced it with a courtyard with benches and greenery and paths.)

  5. DogMomster Says:

    I agree with Margaret, that it does sound like the Open Meetings Act has been violated by first informing the public that a vote would NOT be held at that meeting, then turning around and voting on it in the wee hours of the morning (when the rest of the public is trying to get enough rest to face their next workday). I would really like to see that vote held AGAIN following discussion IN FRONT OF the public that voted in that Board, and then see just how gutsy the Board is in raising and approving those salaries.

    To UU: there is no “salary envy” here. And my comments are based on the apparent violation of an act that is to prevent the public’s will from being so blatantly ignored….