Platte County R-3 School District Superintendent Mike Reik’s salary and benefits have climbed by 50 percent since he was hired for the district’s top post 11 years ago.
Reik’s total compensation has increased from $154,800 when he was first promoted to superintendent during the 2009-’10 school year to $232,273 during the current school year, according to information requested by The Landmark and documents provided by the school district.
Reik is paid more in salary and benefits than many area superintendents and has equal, or in some cases fewer, years in the superintendent’s seat than top officials in several other Kansas City area school districts, according to Landmark research.
One area superintendent, Dr. Bill Nicely in the Kearney School District, has a total compensation of about $2,500 more than Reik. While Nicely has served as superintendent in the Kearney district the same number of years that Reik has served at R-3, the Kearney leader has five more years of experience as a superintendent, having served in that capacity at another district before joining Kearney, while Reik only has served as superintendent in Platte County.
Other superintendents in similar sized school districts earn less. The newspaper reached out to other area districts for salary and benefit packages.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) does not track superintendent salaries by including benefits.
Platte County District Communications Director Laura Hulett said that Reik’s salary “reflects market value.”
The Landmark contacted multiple area districts with about 4,000 students, which makes them comparable to Platte County’s enrollment of about 4,100, to obtain superintendents’ total compensation (including benefits). Reik’s total compensation during the current school year is $232,273 while the following superintendents earn less in combined salary and benefits: Smithville, about $170,000 and Grain Valley, $182,200. (The Landmark contacted nearby Excelsior Springs district, which also has similar enrollment numbers, but officials there declined to provide information without first receiving a Sunshine request under the state’s open meetings law, which time did not permit.)
When asked about the percentage increase, Sharon Sherwood, president of the R-3 school board initially said during a telephone interview, “That can’t be right. There must be a mistake.”
In a recent telephone interview, Sherwood said Reik’s compensation had increased incrementally, given the three percent increase per year and with other benefits such as a $10,000 administrative benefit and insurance.
“It’s a combination of small things,” she said, and added that “I don’t have my calculator right here with me.”
Despite Sherwood’s assertion, information provided by the district itself confirms Reik’s compensation has grown by just over 50 percent in his time at R-3, which is substantially more than Sherwood’s insistence that increases have been at three percent per year.
Sherwood said Reik’s performance justifies his total compensation because of “his ability to speak with people and work with people.” She said an example is how Reik convinced a landowner to donate property to the district to be used as the location of a future school. The property is near Hwy. 152 and Platte Purchase Road and has adjoining soccer fields to which the district can have free access.
Reik said his compensation should not be limited to comparisons of similarly sized districts but “should be compared to the entire metro or at least the entire Northland. We compete with districts our size and districts much larger when it comes to academics, extra and co-curriculars, professional staff, etc.,” he stated in an email.
In addition, Reik said when he started as superintendent in 2009 he was “one of the lowest paid superintendents in the metro. I believe that you will find that I am around the middle of that comparison now if you gather the necessary information,” he wrote.
Reik said several Kansas City area superintendents are earning $100,000 more in total compensation than he is earning.
“While they are larger, you must consider the fact that they have layers of support that we do not have,” he wrote.
Reik said there’s a difference between experience garnered in outlying districts and those in the Kansas City area.
“Experience at a small district in southwest Missouri would have little to no impact on the starting salary of a superintendent moving into the metro,” he said. Reik said outlying districts often serve as a training ground for moving into larger metropolitan districts and therefore larger metropolitan schools have to offer higher wages to compete.
Reik said that compensation in districts like Platte County “is (in part) driven by a market that includes larger districts.” Not competing with larger districts would make it hard to retain staff, including the superintendent position.
“I do not see how the picture is complete without this consideration,” he wrote. Reik said Platte County can’t pay as much as Park Hill or North Kansas City, which both have larger enrollment than R-3.
He said the board of education, which has the final say in superintendent salaries, “considers this as part of determining compensation for their superintendent, just as I do when considering raises for other certified and classified staff.”
Reik stated that “while he could not speak for” board members, they have been involved in considering his contract “enhancements” throughout the 11 years he has served the district and “they would tell you that my compensation is adjusted based on my performance along with market comparisons.”
He said his compensation includes consideration of his experience as a “mentor…to superintendents in districts much larger than Platte County” through his role in the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
“Compensation is typically based on experience in current position,” Hulett said in an email. “With almost 11 years of experience as superintendent, this makes Dr. Reik one of the most experienced superintendents in the region and state,” she stated.
When The Landmark compared Reik’s 11 years in the superintendent’s seat with those of others in the Kansas City area through an Excel spread sheet supplied by DESE, it was discovered that Reik has fewer total years as superintendent than five area superintendents (focusing on superintendents in Kansas City area districts, but many of these held the top post in smaller districts before joining larger suburban districts): Andrew Underwood, Belton, 15 years; Paul Kinder, Blue Springs, 29 years; Richard Markley, Raytown, 19; David Figg, Lafayette County, 12; Paul Mensching, Harrisonville, 12; Jason Snodgrass–Fort Osage, Jonathan Oetinger–Odessa, Bryan Thomsen–Oak Grove, and Michael Tucker–Liberty, are tied with Reik with 11 years experience, according to DESE statistics.
In an emailed statement, Reik said he was “surprised” there are several area superintendents with more years of experience, but that he is “more experienced than” superintendents in several Kansas City area districts which he listed as: Smithville, North Kansas City, Park Hill, Kansas City, Grain Valley, Raymore-Peculiar, Lee’s Summit, Independence, Hickman Mills, and Center.
DESE reports confirm his assertions.
Reik further explained there’s a difference between experience garnered in outlying districts and those in the Kansas City area.
“With regards to your research in other districts, I have seen correspondence and I question whether other districts provided you with the thorough accounting of their entire compensation that we provided. Please consider this.”
However, in contacting area districts, The Landmark obtained other forms of compensation, such as benefits, before calculating the total compensation of each superintendent.
Reik continued: “I will not go on about my accomplishments but I will say that I have served in many leadership capacities in the metro and at the state level, I have led the district through the Great Recession, and I have enjoyed too many individual, school, and district accomplishments to attempt to list.”
He said he has “worked tirelessly to achieve the goals of the board members I have served. Platte County School District isn’t just where I work,” he wrote. “It is my home,” he said, adding that it is where his children and niece live and go to school, where his father and sister live. He said, “Platte County is a place that I have chosen to live, work, and ultimately retire, in spite of many opportunities to leave.”