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Local school districts will weigh idea to share superintendent

By John Published: April 21, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

The school boards of Cuyahoga Falls and neighboring Woodridge will meet tonight to discuss the possibility of sharing a superintendent.

The Falls is looking for a superintendent to replace Edwin Holland, who has accepted the same position at Cuyahoga Heights, south of Cleveland.

Woodridge's superintendent, Walter Davis, was previously an assistant superintendent in Cuyahoga Falls, so he's familiar with both districts. The Falls enrolls about 5,000 students, Woodridge about 2,000.

The boards will meet at 7 p.m. at the Summit County Educational Service Center, 420 Washington Ave. in Cuyahoga Falls.

Summit County ESC Superintendent Linda Fuline and her staff will lead a structured discussion about the pros and cons of such an arrangement.

She said the agenda includes a 15-minute period at the end for public comment. Audience members also will be able to submit written questions to board members if they don't get a chance to speak.

Fuline spoke with Springfield's school board about a year ago when that district was considering sharing a treasurer with Mogadore.

She told those board members about
how Orrville and Rittman broke new ground in 2008 with their innovative compact to share a superintendent, treasurer, assistant superintendent, student data coordinator and a special education director.

Springfield and Mogadore formed the state's second agreement when Mogadore's full-time treasurer, Chris Adams, became treasurer for both districts.

''I see this as a trend because of the cost savings to the district,'' Mogadore school board President Rodger Sansom said.

The treasurer works 25 hours for each district, which added 10 hours to his work week, Sansom said.

''The savings to our district was in excess of $50,000 because we share his salary and benefits,'' Sansom said. ''We pay half his vacation, and they pay half his vacation.''

The idea that the treasurer could split his time and still get Mogadore's work done raised some eyebrows in the community, Sansom said.

''We had public concerns because we're paying a full-time treasurer and then all of a sudden he can do the same work in half the time,'' Sansom said. ''The public perception didn't go well.

''We just emphasized the savings to the district. Quite frankly, the work is getting done and we have a good staff to support him.''

Those savings are especially important to highlight because Mogadore is asking district voters for a new property tax levy May 3 that would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $260 more a year.

''Over the past four or five years, we've cut $1 million out of the budget,'' Sansom said.

Mogadore and Springfield also are looking at expanding the relationship by entering into some combined purchases that could save money.

''So far we're still putting that plan in place, but we're looking at textbooks, we're looking at the whole nine yards. We're looking at even sharing classes because if they offer a foreign language that we don't, their district is not that far away. We can take our students to them or they can bring their students to us.''

But Mogadore, with fewer than 1,000 students in the district, doesn't want consolidation with Springfield.

High school football is important to Wildcats fans.

''We have 'Friday Night Lights' here and if we ever got away from that, it would just kill this town,'' Sansom said.

Sharing the treasurer has worked out so well that Mogadore considered sharing Springfield's superintendent, William Stauffer, when Mogadore's superintendent, Terry Byers, retired in January.

The district instead hired Christina Dinklocker, the former deputy superintendent in Parma.

Sansom said the board was really impressed with Stauffer'scredentials, but the timing of Springfield's construction of a new building for grades 7-12 gave them pause.

''We were almost there, but the thing that kind of nixed it for us was that they're building a new building,'' Sansom said. ''We just built our new building, and we knew the time that it took. The superintendent just needs to be in that district while that's going on. He's pretty much the project manager. And we felt that we might end up on the short end of the stick.''

The boards for Woodridge and Cuyahoga Falls will begin their conversation about sharing tonight a first for the Summit County ESC.

''We have never brought two boards together,'' Fuline said. ''I've spoken with them separately, but never had two full boards together to facilitate that conversation.''


John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the education blog at http://education.ohio.com/.

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