Two schools in Niagara County will share school superintendents in the coming school year.
Royalton-Hartland, a school with about 1,400 students, and Barker, a school with about 900 students, already share several services and sports teams and are sharing superintendents on a one-year trial basis in 2013-14. This decision is being driven entirely by a desire to save money and to see if further shared services between the districts are really possible.
The experiment's success will have ramifications throughout the state - including in Panama and Clymer, whose school boards met recently to discuss sharing a superintendent. In addition to the districts' proximity and shared rural characters, Bert Lictus, Panama's superintendent, lives in Clymer. Each district could save up to $60,000 a year by sharing a superintendent - savings that aren't massive by any means, but could help both districts afford to keep an additional teacher on staff or help keep future tax levy increases beneath the state's tax cap. Trimming the most expensive personnel costs at small districts can go a long way, after all.
Panama and Clymer are very early in the discussions, so there is plenty of time for residents in both districts to make their voices heard. The districts haven't yet discussed specific details about the arrangement, agreeing only to discuss the matter further.
There is little reason not to at least try sharing a superintendent. It is an interesting way for districts to save money as they are squeezed by tougher education standards, increased costs for teacher salaries and pensions and the state's tax cap. It is a worthy alternative to eliminating staff members who spend their days working with children. Board members at Clymer and Panama should be commended for being the first to have this discussion publicly.
More area districts should follow their lead.