Roselle Elementary District 12 Superintendent Lori Bein received a nearly $21,000 raise in base salary this week after the school board voted unanimously to renew her contract for three years.
Bein's new contract is retroactive to July 1 and runs through June 30, 2014. Board President Debra Wilson said the salary increase will cost the district very little because Bein no longer will receive district health insurance benefits.
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The board reviewed total compensation packages for 10 nearby districts and found Bein's was almost at the bottom, officials said. One reason is because Bein last year waived her 2 percent scheduled raise.
"She didn't think it was appropriate given the challenging financial times being faced by most school districts," Wilson said. "And we truly got a bargain when we hired her."
Wilson said board members worried that Bein's base salary of $150,699 no longer was competitive. As a result, her new base salary is $171,425, an increase of nearly $21,000.
Wilson said she is unsure if Bein is receiving health insurance from another source. But she said the savings to the district of not providing such insurance will be significant.
"Over time, the board believes this will actually save money because health care costs are rising at a much faster rate than are salaries," she said.
Officials said Bein exceeded expectations in recent years, and surveys from peers, supervisors, parents and teachers also proved favorable.
"She's doing a phenomenal job," Wilson said.
During her tenure that started in 2007, Bein said she is proud that District 12 maintained solid finances and conducted amicable teacher contract negotiations.
She also is pleased with her staff's willingness to embrace technology with tools such as computerized whiteboards in every classroom.
"We've been able to implement technology seamlessly throughout instruction in a major way," Bein said. "I'm thrilled our kids are learning from tools that are part of their world, as opposed to just paper and pencil that were part of our world."
During the next three years, Bein said she hopes to maintain District 12's good financial standing while still compensating teachers adequately and maintaining programs.
"We understand the reality of finances and the lack of funding from the state, but we very much honor the impact of our teaching staff," she said.
The district also will focus on improving test scores, which have risen steadily since the No Child Left Behind mandate began nearly 10 years ago. Bein said District 12 started with 78 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards in 2002, but now that number is 93 percent.
She said the state will unveil new standards in 2014 and District 12 is working to be ready to succeed.
Other programs that will be implemented during the next few years include lessons on social and emotional skills at all grade levels.
"Of course we want to teach science, math, English and social studies, but we also want our kids to know how to cope with the world around them and how to make positive choices in relationships," Bein said.