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Michigan's next state superintendent of public instruction will start Aug. 1 under a three-year contract paying $216,000 annually.

Incoming state superintendent Michael F. Rice was appointed by the state board of education in May and is currently superintendent for Kalamazoo Public Schools.

According to his contract, Rice, 56, is an at-will employee who will be evaluated annually by the state board of education.

If Rice's performance is determined to be satisfactory, his salary will be increased by the average percent increases granted to other department directors in state government and his contract extended by one year.

Rice began his career in education as a high school French teacher and speech and debate program founder and coach in the Washington, D.C., public schools.

Rice becomes superintendent at a critical time for Michigan’s 1.5 million students. Michigan ranks in the bottom third of states for fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade math and college attainment, and it's 43rd out of 47 in school funding equity.

Rice says more spending on public schools is critical, especially to address the chronic underfunding of English language students, poor students and special needs students.

He says he wants to increase pay, benefits and professional development for teachers. Rice opposes the "punitive" retention requirements of the state's third-grade reading laws and the dual accountability system created when state lawmakers passed the A-F grading system during the lame duck session in December. 

jchambers@detroitnews.com

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