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Detroit Public Schools employee salaries

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Detroit Public Schools employee salaries are public information under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.[1]

As of 2010, the average pay of a Michigan public school teacher was 16.5% higher than in Indiana, according to the most recent salary comparison from the U.S. Department of Education.[2]

Salary information

In July 2011, Detroit public school teachers took a 10% wage cut and paid more for health care, measures designed to save nearly $82 million to begin addressing the district’s $327 million deficit. The 10% wage cuts became effective in late August and in early September, employees began paying for 20% of their health care benefits.[3]

In response, three unions representing 10,000 DPS employees sued over the new measures, as reported by Crain’s Detroit Business. The president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers claimed that the cuts were “an unprecedented power grab.” The unions sought an injunction to block the changes, made pursuant to new state legislation expanding the power of emergency financial managers, in this case the Emergency Financial Manager and State Treasurer, who approved the cuts. Both declined to comment on the suit, but stated that the they were discouraged by the overall unwillingness to work together.[4]

Detroit Public Schools salary schedule for certified, contract teachers[5]

Step Less than a master’s degree Master’s degree Master’s degree plus 30 hours/JD Doctorate
1 $38,297 $40,121 $40,121 $40,721
2 $39,288 $43,619 $43,919 $44,219
3 $41,316 $46,127 $46,427 $46,727
4 $43,284 $48,573 $48,873 $49,173
5 $45,310 $51,012 $51,312 $51,612
6 $47,343 $53,529 $53,829 $54,129
7 $49,381 $55,962 $56,262 $56,562
8 $51,343 $58,477 $58,777 $59,077
9 $53,369 $60,917 $61,217 $61,517
10 $60,208 $70,046 $70,346 $70,646
11 ------ ------ $70,746 $71,046

DPS highest paid workers

In March 2011, Michigan Capitol Confidential (CAPCON) reported that following the pay scale revisions for principals in 2010, twice as many Detroit Public School employees earned six-figure salaries. The district’s deficit grew from $110 million in 2010 to $327 million at the time the article was published.[6]

$100k + employees at Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Public Schools Spokesman Steve Wasko announced in February 2011 that the $327 million deficit would require closing half the district’s schools, laying off teachers and enforcing teacher pay cuts. In March 2011, Michigan Capital Confidential (CAPCON) reported that in spite of the deficit, many school officials received pay increases from 2008 to 2009.

Overall, there were 50 employees making $100,000+. Fourteen of the 21 DPS employees that made over $100,000 in both 2008 and 2009 saw a salary increase. Overall, however, the number of employees making six figures in the district dropped.[7]

The fiscal year 2008-2009 budget allocated a total personnel cost of $1,010,633,857.[8] Detroit City Schools spent $406,160,572.21 on teacher salaries and $175,381,935.34 on benefits in 2009-2010.[9]

Expenditure Cost
Salary $695,770,335
Employee insurance benefits $135,561,757
FICA/retirement/unemployment/WC $177,686,825
Total personnel expenditures $1,010,633,857

Projected pension cost

The 2012 adopted budget reflected the state-mandated pension rate of 24.46%, an increase from the rate of 20.66% in 2011. To offset the pension rate increase, DPS received approximately $100 more per pupil.[10]

Projected pension costs

Year Cost Contribution rate
FY 2009 actual $115,558,380 16.54%
FY 2010 actual $101,429,507 16.94%
FY 2011 amended $105,975,188 20.66%
FY 2012 adopted $107,092,459 24.46%

Pension spending accounted for 15.9% ($38,872,309) of the total operating budget in 2012.[11]

Salary records project

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):

1. California
2. Florida
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Texas
8. Wisconsin

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection method was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments.

Importance of public employee pay disclosure

In July 2010, The Los Angeles Times uncovered that officials in Bell, California were making remarkably high salaries.[12] Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning a yearly $787,637. It was later uncovered that Rizzo's total compensation after taking benefits into account topped $1.5 million a year.[13]

For comparison:[12]

  • Manhattan Beach, with about 7,000 fewer people than Bell, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year.
  • Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, paid its city manager $235,000 annually.
  • Los Angeles County paid its chief executive, William T. Fujioka, $338,458.

Corruption solution

After this report was released, governments began to proactively disclose salary information of their employees. Before the end of the summer of 2010, more than a dozen cities in Orange County, for example, posted salary information on the front pages of their websites.[14]

The cost of transparency websites maintaining such information ranges from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. These websites also save money, and this often is not taken into account when measuring costs.

Citizens upset about the breach of trust and armed with information formed a group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which pushed for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts.[15]

Citizens, empowered with information, are key to keeping government free from corruption and efficient. A study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia revealed that the city of Philadelphia has a problem with the efficiency and costs of public employee pensions.[16] The amount that Philadelphia pays to pension recipients limits the city’s ability to use its budget effectively.

The report revealed that there were more individuals receiving pension benefits—33,907 claimants in 2006—than workers in the city—28,701.[16] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[16] First, improve data collection so that decision-making in terms of pension policies is more informed. Second, promote transparency for better accountability to citizens. Third, reduce costs and use the savings for developing Philadelphia.

Resistance to public employee salary data as public records

The idea of making public employee salaries is relatively new. In 2008, several local government employee associations and unions protested the posting of state employee salaries by newspaper The Sacramento Bee.[17][18] At the time, it was seen as a safety risk and invasion of privacy.

Sunshine Review aims in posting salary information

Publicly posted salaries often leave out important information. Salary schedules can be published as ranges, not as specific take-home compensation, and high-level, highly-paid positions are often not disclosed proactively.[14][13] Additionally, salaries leave out compensation received through health and retirement benefits, as well as benefits such as commuter allowances and cell phone reimbursements. This project aimed to close the gap and provide a more accurate picture of public employee salaries for the sake of public education and transparency.

See also

External links


  1. The Michigan Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act, prepared by the Michigan Legislature 2001
  2. Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Michigan Teacher Pay 16.5 Percent Higher Than Indiana," December 2, 2010
  3. The Huffington Post, "Detroit school teachers to take 10 percent wage cut, pay more for health insurance," July 29, 2011
  4. Crian's Detroit Business, "DPS unions sue over wage cuts and health insurance contributions"
  5. Salary Schedule
  6. Michigan Capitol Confidential, "DPS doubles number of employees making $100k+," March 9, 2011
  7. Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Who Are the $100K-Plus Employees at the Detroit Public Schools?," March 10, 2011
  8. FY 2008-2009 Personnel Expenditures
  9. Michigan School District Revenue and Expenditure Report—Makinac Center for Public Policy
  10. Pension numbers - 2012 budget
  11. 2012 Adopted Budget
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Los Angeles Times "Bell city manager might be highest paid in nation: $787,637 a year," July 14, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Los Angeles Times "Benefits push Bell ex-manager's compensation to more than $1.5 million," August 8, 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Orange County Register "O.C. cities dash to post personnel salaries," August 10, 2010
  15. Bloomberg "California Official's $800,000 Salary in City of 38,000 Triggers Protests," July 20, 2010
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 '’Philadelphia’s Quiet Crisis: The Rising Cost of Employee Benefits, Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, January 23, 2008
  17. GovTech "California State Workers Protest Salary Database Publication," March 17, 2008
  18. The Sacramento Bee "State Worker Salary Search"