It’s one thing for school districts to share some sports teams and academic programs these days, but sharing a leader is largely untested territory.
That is, until two eastern Niagara County school districts this week decided to give it a go, primarily as a cost-saving maneuver. Both the Royalton-Hartland and Barker school boards this week sealed a deal that will allow them to share a superintendent for at least a year.
With the departure of Roy-Hart Superintendent Kevin MacDonald at the end of this school year to head the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, the superintendent for the Barker district, Roger J. Klatt, will take on the role for both beginning July 1.
“Each board felt that the conditions were favorable after having already entered into a number of shared initiatives for this coming year,” Klatt said Friday.
In an effort to reduce expenses and increase student access to programs, both districts had earlier agreed to implement a shared wrestling program, as well as sharing a special-education program and the services of a certified business teacher for the 2013-2014 school year.
The districts started working together two years ago when they merged their football programs.
“That collaboration has proved to be a very successful venture between the two districts. The parents and community members have embraced the shared program, as well,” Klatt said.
An educator for 28 years, Klatt has been employed with the Barker district for 13 years, six of them as superintendent.
He will remain an employee of Barker, but the agreement reached Wednesday by both the Roy-Hart and Barker school boards will require each district to cover 50 percent of his annual $149,652 base salary and benefits.
There is another example of shared sports programs in Erie County, where the East Aurora School Board approved a plan that would allow students from Holland Central High School, who have been without a football program, to try out for East Aurora’s team, effectively merging programs.
Sharing superintendents is not unheard of in New York State, Klatt said.
“I believe there are already one or two [school districts] in the Adirondacks that share a superintendent, but they have a smaller combined population than what either Barker or Roy-Hart have,” he said.
Barker has a districtwide enrollment of about 900 students, and Roy-Hart has about 1,400. Typically, districts that seek to share a superintendent are smaller, Klatt said.
“It’s not rare, but it’s new to our area, and because it’s a unique concept, both districts decided that it would be best if we entered into this agreement for just one year. We’re hopeful that it becomes a manageable situation and that I will be able to manage each district effectively,” he said.
“Being separate districts, they each have their unique circumstances and goals that are unique to each district. The hope is that I will be effective in meeting the separate goals established by each district, as well as meeting the needs of the students of each district and the respective communities.” he added.