Mount Clemens school board votes against renewing superintendent’s contract

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published July 16, 2015




MOUNT CLEMENS — In a 4-3 vote on July 6, the Mount Clemens Community Schools Board of Education did not renew Superintendent Deborah Wahlstrom’s contract.

The vote came following Wahlstrom’s 2 1/2 years of work in the district, work that resulted in a reduction in the district’s budget deficit from $4.8 million to $2 million.

Still, the district has been under state supervision and the student population has experienced a significant reduction of more than 55 percent. There were only 40 students in the 2014 graduating class.

Board President Earl Rickman and members David McFadden and Pat Maceroni voted in favor of the one-year contract renewal.

“I didn’t think it’s the appropriate time to start looking for a new superintendent,” said Maceroni.

Rickman said Wahlstrom received a “favorable” written evaluation.

“I can’t explain why her contract wasn’t renewed except for (how the vote went),” Rickman said.

He said Wahlstrom, who was hired by the district in 2012, came into a difficult environment but was able to cut the district’s budget deficit in a very short period of time and kept the district from being chartered.

“This district was on the verge of being taken over by the state,” he said. “But with her leadership, we were able to avoid that and operate independently.”

Board members Ed Bruley, Glenn Voorhess, Jason Monk and Jeanine Walker each voted against renewing the contract.

“I don’t think she’s been the most effective superintendent,” Bruley said. “We continue to lose students, and we need to attract students, not lose them.”

The loss of students in recent years — the student population was right around 1,100 last year — has resulted in state funding plummeting to just under $800,000 this past school year.

Wahlstrom did not respond to requests for comment, but Rickman said he’s of the understanding that she will fulfill the remaining 90 days of her contract.

“There are things in the pipeline that she’s tied to,” Rickman said.

The next step will be for the school board to agree on a hiring plan for the next superintendent.

“Each school board member has priorities, and we will need to meld them together,” Bruley said.

Wahlstrom, who came to Mount Clemens from Virginia, earned a $150,000 annual salary.