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Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 9:49 a.m.

Scot Graden, Saline superintendent of schools, gets contract extension through 2016

By Lisa Allmendinger


Scot Graden and Steve Laatsch outside the Saline Board of Education offices this summer.

Lisa Allmendinger |

Saline Superintendent of Schools Scot Graden was unanimously given a multi-year contract extension through June 30, 2016, Tuesday night by the Board of Education with a base salary of $125,000 through June, 30, 2012.

Since 2007-2008, Graden has taken a 7.5 percent reduction in salary, said Chuck Lesch, Saline Board of Education president, who added that he has lead the district by sharing “the necessary sacrifices.”

At an August retreat, Graden scored a 3.2 on a 4.0 scale on his evaluation by the board, which represents his ability to meet the board’s expectations to lead the district.

“Mr. Graden has done an excellent job of moving Saline Area Schools forward during a very tumultuous time,” Lesch said in a press release. “As a board and a community, we are excited about the future under his leadership.”

He was lauded for “the strong performance of this district, (which) is a testament to Mr. Graden’s dedication to higher achievement for all students at every level and his willingness to address difficult financial issues,” Lesch said.

Board Member Lisa Slawson agreed. “His evaluation was excellent,” and with a contract extension through 2016, “He’s here for a good long time.”

His contract stipulates that he may receive an increase in his annual base salary beginning July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2016, at the discretion of the school board.

Among the highlights of his contract are:

*$125,000 in base salary for a period that began July 1, 2011 and ends June 30, 2012.

*An administrative stipend of $6,500 annually through 2016.

*Reimbursed out-of-pocket expenses for school functions up to $1,900 annually.

*15 vacation days.

*21 holiday days for year-round employment.

*15 sick days per year. Sick days can accumulate up to a maximum of 130 days.

*He’ll pay 10 percent of his insurance premium costs in 2011-2012, in subsequent years, he’ll pay 20 percent, or the state “hard cap” as determined by the board.

In addition to approving Graden’s contract, the board also unanimously approved a three-year contract for Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Steve Laatsch with a base salary of $103,017 for 2011-2012.

His salary for additional years will be determined annually by the school board. He, too, received a $6,500 annual stipend, and his health insurance will mirror that of other administrators in the district.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Saline stories, visit our Saline page.



Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:08 a.m.

Graden has done a very good job given the pressure that the economy and the Saline School Union have put on him. Most managers/directors of $50 million entities this complicated would be making twice if not more. . I would like to see all SAS employees take the same cut that the admin did. To continue with multiple automatic salary increases every year in an economy like this, is simply unacceptable. I am a taxpayer and I am broke.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

I would agree that Saline teachers salaries are disproportionate with other similar jobs. In the case of Mr. Graden, his compensation is not commensurate with the responsibility of managing school district with a a 50 million dollar annual budget. Scott Graden, with his skills at building a customer focused corporate culture, maintaining excellent community and employee relations and his solid work ethic, could probably earn double his salary in the private sector. Scott Graden is a leader that this community can't afford to lose.

larry kramer

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

is this the fool that wanted to get rid of all the math teachers and just use the internet to teach math?

Jimmy Olsen

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:29 a.m.

Larry, my guess is that you are over 50 and don't realize that kids today can learn more from their techno toys - i-pads/phones/the internet - more so than listening to lectures, taking notes and tests. Kids can work at their own pace - not wait for the slower learners and not have to keep up with the more advanced. tests are easy to take, and if someone is missing a concept, more questions can be focused on that concept. It is not for everyone. Funny how the state requires that all students have an on-line learning experience, since many will have to take on-line classes in college. check out the michigan virtual high school - you may learn something.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

I have children in this school system, and I have to tell you, compared to the last district we were in, Mr. Graden is great. He is accessible and always willing to discuss any issues you have. Please also read the article closer. He took a paycut, and received a contract extension. The only group that hasn't taken a paycut is the SEA. I actually have to commend the board if they aren't going to extend that contract, because there are lots of changes in the law, and it appears they are acting responsibly. As far as the board having retired educators on it, then please go vote in November. It looks like there are two candidates that want the board to be fiscally responsible, Dave Holden and David Zimmer. Now you have a choice.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

Graden is a pussycat trying to do a Tigers job. But the BOE is run by several retired public school teachers that are happy to keep this guy in his position because he caves in to their desires . They own him to a large degree and they are his puppet master. They are not totally happy with him but it is better to know who you enemy is then have no clue. Saline Schools are a joke, minor concessions by the unions while the taxpayers get fleeced. 5th grade and middle school gym teachers ( under 40 years of age) making 98k plus per year is ridiculous ! Not to mention they get health care till they die and a pension that pays them thousands per month when they retire at the ripe old age of 52 or so . All brought to you by the taxpayers with gun held to their head ! Good Day

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

@Hornet2for3 Maybe extending probably one of the richest teacher contracts in the area was rejected because it is a bad idea. Next year the health care cap kicks-in and maybe a roll-back of wages like the administrators took. I guess the reality of the economc condition of Michigan has set in for some, but not all the employee groups at Saline Area Schools.


Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

Does Mr. Lesch or anyone else on the board for that matter care to elaborate as to how Mr. Graden has been a leader? He is the definition of ineffectual. Also, Mr. Graden doesn't deserve any of the credit for the strong academic achievement displayed by students within this district, that credit goes to the students and the teachers (the people actually doing the legwork in the classroom). Finally, I think Mr. Lesch needs to take a careful look at the way that this district is moving forward; in my opinion cramming 40+ kids into a single classroom is not the type of progress that the district and community should be proud of.

Paul Hynek

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

@dm61 and Jimmy Olsen Mr. Graden gave these numbers at the last board meeting. Average class sizes by grade: K/1 is 23, 2nd is 26, 3rd is 27.5, 4th is 29, 5th is 31, 6th is 30, 7 is 32, 8 is 33 and 9-12 is 13% @ 40 or above.

Jimmy Olsen

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.

@dm61 - we have also watched the state's financial position go from bad to downright scary, which is more the reason for our district's financial issue, besides the overly priced SEA contract. Mr. Graden error'd several years ago when he brought the contract extenstion to the board. His reasoning was sound - eliminate the financial issues and concentrate on education - but his timing was wrong. Remember the board also error'd by voting 6 to 1 on that extenstion. I'm not sure what knowledge you have of the "reasonable" offers the SEA has presented since they have never become public, which makes me think you've been drinking the SEA/MEA kool-aid. Every CEO of any major company in the world makes more money than the President of the US - is that deserved ? An athlete that makes 10 million a year to play a game ? is that deserved. he is the leader of the district, and i suspect should be compensated as such. tomorrow i will call the district to confirm class sizes. My neighborhood kids aren't reporting that many kids in their classrooms.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

@Jimmy Olsen - During Mr. Graden's tenure as superintendent we have all watched this district's financial situation go from bad to downright scary, and his only solution has been to reject any reasonable offer that the SEA has made and counter with completely unreasonable offers that serve only to protect his six figure salary while cutting benefits and pay for the real educators. Yes he has taken pay cuts, but he still makes more money than any teacher in this district, and that simply is not deserved. What in your opinion has made Mr. Graden a superintendent worthy of keeping around? As for the overcrowding issue, I can't give you an exact number, but I recently visited some of my former teachers at the high school and every single teacher I talked to is dealing with class sizes in the very high thirties to low forties. One teacher has a computer lab for a classroom and has fewer computers than she does students because of classroom overcrowding.

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

@dm61, please elaborate why you feel Mr. Graden is the "definition of ineffectual". Just making a statement with nothing to back it up would be the "definition of opinionated with no facts". And how many classes does SAS have with 40+ kids ?


Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

This is a great article up until the point where all the benefits are listed. It's almost as if the reporter wants everyone to take a swing at this guy for having a great job in a terrible economy. Bottom line is that this guy has done a wonderful job for the school district and is worth his compensation. I would be interested to see what he was deficient in with a 3.2 out of 4.0 evaluation?

Buster W.

Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

"15 sick days per year. Sick days can accumulate up to a maximum of 130 days." This seems a bit excessive given all of the other days off. Please don't tell me these 130 days can be "cashed out" at some point. Does anyone know??? If so, I'd be smiling too if I were Scot.

Basic Bob

Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

51 days off per year. This is great pay for part time work.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:44 a.m.

Most of us are for 100% year round schooling, let's get it done Basic Bob ! The only ones fighting it will be the union government workers who stand to lose their 51 days ( plus weekends) off. Good Day

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

I urge you to lead the charge for year-round schooling. Good Night and Good Luck


Wed, Sep 14, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Teachers have already given $1.8 million back in concessions; the latest offer was for an additional $800,000+, and yet that offer was rejected because it included a contract extension. Does that imply that the teachers aren't doing "an excellent job of moving Saline Area Schools forward during a very tumultuous time"?


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

or does it imply that extending an already over generous contract will bypass some new laws in Lansing that don't take affect until "the current contract ends", and the cost of that extenstion would probably be more than the $800,000+ savings. Come on, this is MEA/SEA negotiating 101.