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Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

Lincoln superintendent agrees to 10-percent pay cut as district faces $5.2M budget deficit

By Danielle Arndt

Lincoln Consolidated Schools Superintendent Ellen Bonter offered and agreed Monday night to take a 10-percent pay cut for the upcoming 2013-14 academic year.

And as school officials begin contract negotiations for concessions from its collective bargaining units, Bonter also agreed to increase her salary reduction to the highest percentage obtained from the district's unions.


Ellen Bonter

The salary reduction terms were discussed at Monday's Board of Education meeting, during which the board evaluated Bonter's performance in closed executive session.

The evaluation examined 12 key areas of effectiveness: relationship with the board; community relations; staff relations; business and finance; educational leadership; personal qualities; evaluation; progress toward the school improvement plan; student attendance; feedback from students, parents and teachers; and student growth and achievement.

"Board members individually commented on each of the 12 areas and in summary, the Board of Education determined that Superintendent Bonter's performance meets and in some areas exceeds the expectations overall,” according to a statement released after the evaluation. "Areas requiring improvement and the strengths of the superintendent relative to these 12 categories were identified and discussed. The board unanimously expresses its continued support for the superintendent and confidence in her ability to lead the district towards the fulfillment of our mission and vision."

Bonter earns a base salary of $130,000, according to a recent statewide Mackinac Center for Public Policy superintendent compensation database. She receives a pension of $32,500 and insurance coverage worth $8,234, for a total compensation of $170,734, the database says.

Outdated compensation information from the 2011 calendar year on the district's website shows Bonter earned a salary of $131,000 that year.

A 10-percent pay cut is equal to approximately a $13,000 reduction.

The statewide database shows Bonter has the fourth-highest base salary in Washtenaw County and the district is the third largest in terms of student enrollment. Other superintendent salaries in the county range from $113,500 to $245,000.

Board documents from Monday's meeting show Lincoln schools is projecting a best-case-scenario budget shortfall of $5.2 million for the 2013-14 academic year. Worst-case scenario would be nearly $6.5 million.

Lincoln's operating budget for the current school year is about $46 million. District documents show Lincoln had a fund balance, or primary savings account, of $745,438 at the beginning of the school year. Officials project a negative fund balance of nearly $3 million by June 30, documents say.

In Monday's board report, officials say a solution to the district's budget troubles will require a collaborative effort and meetings with Lincoln's four employee unions.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Teaching gets harder each year as more and more gets added to our plates and class sizes get bigger. We spend hundreds of dollars on our classrooms because the school can't afford it. We spend thousands on classes to keep our certificates up to date. I have been teaching a short time, but because of the increase in insurance and even the smallest salary concession, I will be making less that I did in my first year teaching. In what other business would that be ok? I wouldn't even mind so much if it made a difference. We will still walk in next year with no money for paper, only now I won't be able to afford to buy it for myself.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 8:52 a.m.

So nice to see administration finally making concessions too. Current staff has been making them them for years. The teachers have taken a step cut and and a pay freeze over the past several years, yet expected to do double the work now. And as Spyker points out, the trickery utilized by the Admin and Board over the years is stunning. Not to mention the mismanagement of funds overall. They crave change, yet it never actually takes place.

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

A reference to a $7,000 other compensation figure included in Ellen Bonter's total compensation package has been removed from this story. Bonter does not receive an "other" compensation. The $7,000 figure belongs to the Dexter superintendent. I misread the database. So sorry for the error! Also, in case there is any confusion the projected $5.2 million to $6.5 million budget shortfall that the district faces is the amount Lincoln will need to cut to pass a balanced budget for the 2013-14 academic year. Thanks for reading!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

Did the Board approve the 10% Salary Reduction in their subsequent closed door session or is this a repeat of the sleight of hand trick used previously by Lincoln Administrators and Board? Not mentioned in this article is the 15% pay reduction Bonter is asking from the lowest paid classifications of employees - some of whom are trying to raise a family of four on the seasonal $17K wages they receive from their school job. I am sure Bonter's pay reduction from $130K to $117K (if it is genuine) will not be painless, but the pain will pale in comparison to that experienced by those employees whom the District want to decrease their compensation from $17K to $14.5K.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Its 2013 - who in their right mind is trying to raise a family of four on a seasonal wage of $17K? if I were in their shoes, I would consider other employment, not just seasonal forget that, I would not consider it I would see it as no other option


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

But look at the bright side - the district has the nicest, newest gym available for their multi-age school that voters paid for. Oh yeah, I mean the newest, nicest gym available for their kindergarten school. My bad. Somewhere I remember voting for a new gym for the multi-age program and it ended up for kindergartners.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

I suspect you are right.

Little Patience

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Give them another year or two, and they will shuffle everything around again. There is never a long term, thought-out plan at LCS.

Chester Drawers

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Back in the 90's (?) the AAPS talked the voters into big bucks to renovate the pools at Huron & Pioneer (and I think the middle schools also), partly with the promise of open swimming for the public. I'm still standing here in my swim trunks, waiting for my invite!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

This is definitely admirable of her...but I'm sure she'll still be living quite comfortably on 118k/yr.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at the AAPS offices... the sound of silence.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

also the haunting sound of crickets chirping.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

And Ypsi has three of them.