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Posted on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 11 a.m.

Contract for superintendent services between Ypsilanti schools and WISD is approved

By Danielle Arndt

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Related story: Consolidated school district to house grades 5-8 in Willow Run, high-schoolers in Ypsilanti

Editor's note: Additional information has been added to the story to further explain the compensation aspect of this arrangement.

The joint Ypsilanti-Willow Run Board of Education approved a cooperative agreement Thursday with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel to serve as the leader of the new consolidated district.


Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel discusses the Ypsilanti-Willow Run consolidation proposal with a local resident at Tower Inn Cafe on election night, Nov. 6, 2012. Menzel will continue to play an integral role in the merger process as the new district's chief superintendent.

Daniel Brenner | file photo

Ypsilanti Community Schools will compensate the WISD $60,000 per fiscal year for Menzel's services during the merger transition, according to the agreement.

Menzel said the WISD board has not modified his contract yet to reflect what portion of this amount he will receive, but what has been discussed is 20 percent of his base salary, which for the 2012-13 academic year is $156,500. His salary will increase to $160,000 on July 1.

He said the agreement amount was calculated based on a percentage of his time and the total cost of his contract, including what the WISD is required to pay in to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System and for FICA, et cetera.

The contract was passed unanimously at Thursday's school board meeting with little discussion. It will become effective July 1 and expire on June 30, 2015, at which point it is expected Menzel will return to his role at the WISD and there will be a new plan in place for obtaining a superintendent of YCS.

There are clauses in the cooperative agreement for early termination if the arrangement is not working out, said board President David Bates. Other provisions outline how the WISD and YCS will handle conflicts of interest, disputes and shared information and duties.

Menzel's base for carrying out his YCS duties also was addressed in the agreement. He will be required to perform administrative services pertaining to Ypsilanti Community Schools at the district's administrative offices. He also will be required to visit the schools and programs of the new district as he deems appropriate or necessary. Menzel will be permitted to conduct business affecting both the WISD and YCS, such as attending conferences or drafting grant proposals, at either administrative office, the WISD's or YCS's, according to the contract.

Menzel, who could not attend Thursday's meeting, told in a phone interview that Washtenaw County is breaking new ground with this agreement. He said because there was not a model out there of how to do this, a great deal of care was taken to structure the arrangement in a way that ensures there are not conflicts of interest.

Menzel said the only real concerns that exist about this arrangement center on time and "how to manage all of the things on my plate."

"But I've been actively involved in a very deep way in the consolidation throughout the past year and working closely with the board to facilitate a great many things already pertaining to the merger, so in a way this is just a continuation of that work and time commitment," he said.

An important next step will be determining how to structure the roles and responsibilities of the new district's central office team, he said, adding he has given much thought to how best to structure the administration and hopes to make that information more public after spring break.

"At the end of the day, it's really about being able to make a difference in the Ypsilanti Community Schools and in the larger community," Menzel said of his new position. "These were two districts that desperately needed to hit the reset button. And (the WISD and I) have committed to do whatever it takes to make that a reality. And that's exciting work to me.

"The WISD has operated in a facilitative role and has been a supportive player since the onset of the merger discussions. This (contracting for superintendent services) is a little different role than we envisioned, but we're willing to do it because we want this to be successful."

The joint Ypsilanti-Willow Run board approved pursuing a contract with the WISD for superintendent services at its Feb. 25 meeting, while retaining current Ypsilanti and Willow Run superintendents Dedrick Martin and Laura Lisiscki, respectively, as associate superintendents under Menzel.

It was a controversial move that angered many in the large crowd of approximately 180 people who attended the meeting that night. After the meeting, Bates explained the board has been impressed with the work that's been completed so far by the team of Lisiscki, Martin and Menzel.

"The board wants to see the progress continue and doesn't want to do anything that might jeopardize that progress in any way. The board decided that was the most important decision … keeping the leadership team intact," he said on Feb. 25.

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



Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Keeping the two former superintendents and adding in Mr. Menzel on top of the heap sounds to me like a recipe for slow and wasteful decision making in the merged school district. At the very least, the districts are now spending $60k more than they were on administration, so I certainly hope the new district can find enough other efficiencies right away to offset the extra cost represented by Scott Menzel's contract. The whole reason that our state government was pushing for school district consolidation is that Michigan spends more than average on school administration. While I wish the students, parents, teachers and other staff good luck in having the merger improve education in Ypsi and Willow Run, this first decision makes me quite doubtful about their chances.

Dan r OBryan

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

the merger was to save money . doesn't sound like their saving anything.. to many high salaries .two superintendent ,to three. come on wheres the savings going to come from . This merger is domed .it was never thought through . it was presented in a positive way. in reality it was a bunch of lies to scare the tax payers , kids will be bused across town ,fuel longer trips for students is not higher education. A MESS IN THE MAKING


Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

The superintendents are such a small part of the problem; read the budget and tell me where the biggest number is................that's where the real cuts need to occur.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

"These were two districts that desperately needed to hit the reset button." You notice how it the phrasing has gone from building a new school district to simply hitting the reset button? I think they see this as a do-over and are choosing to use the exact same people who created this mess. Brilliant.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

The new superintendent for YCS ... Rube Goldberg


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

"Two districts that desperately needed to hit the reset button." There is a reset button needed: a reset button that unwinds the bad financial decisions made in the past six years; that restores the community's faith in the school district; and that brings effective administration for the first time in decades. How do we get that Menzel? Replacing ineffective administrators who depleted resources, enrollment, and trust? Keeping nearly all schools and programs that currently exist? Joining two districts that were already constructively joined through Schools of Choice? At the end of the day, what is really clear is that Menzel believes that it is the teachers and staff, collective bargaining, and working conditions that must be reset. Teachers re-picked through a rigorous process that the two associate superintendents could never have survived. The two systems devolved for reasons that still exist: a state education system that favors the student that comes from a family with resources and the Michigan funding formula. Don't expect anything different. Creative programs such as small schools have already happened. Over time, every solution imaginable has been tried and has been successful. None continued because of poor decision-making, management, and funding. Talent has not stayed in the Ypsilanti community and I guarantee that telling everyone they don't have a job will not favor keeping talented individuals. Battle-tested teachers are of premium value. New teachers come and leave quickly. What remains are those that survived. Darwinism has already played out. You will not raise the talent bar here....especially with the worst working conditions, longest school year, and lowest compensation in the county. You will reset this, Menzel, in an apocalyptic kind of way. Just as what happened with the Superintendent don't know what is about to hit.


Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Mike, by referring to state discrimination around family resources, I was referring to academic discrimination, not economic. The state is most eager to brand a district as failing where students and families have to work hardest to make ends meet - to have safety and basic needs taken care so that students can focus on learning. The system and scoring itself is designed, structurally, to make sure that areas that aren't expected to perform don't. Guess what happens when too many students get an answer right on the MEAP? They throw the question out. That happens all the time in norm-referenced tests where student scores depend on how other students score. But the MEAP is criterion-referenced and supposed to make sure that every student has a baseline of knowledge. Most students getting an answer right should mean that the state's expectations of knowledge mastery is working. But, oddly it doesn't do that. Then there is a moment when they decide where the passing score is set. A test that ensures a bell-curve of outcomes will also set an acceptable passing rate that reflects a bell-curve of passing scores. And that, my friend, is a political moment where communities like ours will always get the short end of the stick ....even if all of the teachers made sure they taught to state expectations and students learned them. The new focus school approach has changed that, and look at the outcry....communities like YPS were taken off the focus list, and Oakland county schools were put on. Political crisis it was. MEAP is going away, it will be interesting. This is the kind of bias I am referring to. Because the state then added penalties for its oppressive biases and its definition of performance, the communities are stuck in a cycle of economic spiraling downward, charter movements on steroids, and the death of public education. Again, good luck fighting that....maybe Menzel can get Snyder to change it. That would be good.


Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

"The two systems devolved for reasons that still exist: a state education system that favors the student that comes from a family with resources " YPSTeachers - Those with resources pay the way for those without through property taxes! How do you make a statement like that? The bottom line is we pay too much, have unsustainable pensions at too early of an age, and give benefits out of line with the rest of the taxpayers. But you won't look in the mirror and be honest about it............


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Sounds like you really know what you're talking about. I agree that they're really only going to look at trying to manage (which to them simply means "reduce") the cost side of the equation (salaries), and not the intrinsic stuff like "battle-testedness", or getting the most value for the overall salary investment ... which are the things they actually need most desperately to save the entire thing from cratering. The doors are going to be revolving - with inexpensive, inexperienced educators coming & going ... and kids just plain going. And when enrollment-driven funding stops, the circus music will stop ... and public education in Ypsi/WR will be a thing of the past. Accomplished through intentional action of leadership at the state level, and highly reliable incompetence at the local level.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Tom - "Ypsilanti Community Schools will compensate Menzel $60,000 per fiscal year for his services during the merger transition, according to the contract." This seems pretty clear if you read the entire article. These are additional responsibilities taken on by Scott Menzel, and he is being compensated directly. Sounds like a pretty good racket to me, if I weren't one of the taxpayers footing the bill for the fiasco.

tom swift jr.

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

I did read the article, and it wasn't clear. Please note the changes to the article.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

This story has been updated with additional information to correct and further explain how the compensation aspect of the agreement between the WISD and Ypsilanti Community Schools will work.

tom swift jr.

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.


tom swift jr.

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

It appears that the consolidated district is compensating WISD, not Menzel, for the services. The article reads as if Menzel will be receiving his WISD salary AND an additional $60k from the consolidated district.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

I'm seeking further explanation of this right now. I hope to clarify and add more information soon.