Liberty plan has already been charted

A local state audit that showed a $12,720 overpayment to former Liberty schools treasurer Tracey Obermiyer is peanuts. The district sits in state fiscal emergency and is staring at an $11 million deficit by 2016.

Peanuts or not, school officials should take action to recover the Obermiyer overpayment. Meanwhile, the real story will develop when the state issues findings from an audit of the former charter schools that operated within the district. If that audit finds any impropriety, the cost could be significant.

Superintendent Stan Watson was right when, in response to the Obermiyer overpayment, he said, ”This is just further reflection of some of the issues that occurred here in the past.”

Indeed, which is why Watson and the current board of education should embrace ideas that amount to more fiscal responsibility. One of those ideas is sharing a district treasurer with Hubbard schools.

Somehow this proposal is being met with reservations. Watson repeated last week what he said late last year, that ”It’s kind of uncharted waters right now,” as he echoed board members questioning whether one person would be able to accomplish both tasks.

As we said after Watson made this comment the first time, these are not uncharted waters. A simple phone call to Wayne County in northeast Ohio, where the Orrville and Rittman school districts charted the shared treasurer and superintendent waters, will provide all of the answers and alleviate all of the concerns quickly.

In fact, to make it easier for Watson and Liberty school officials, they can call up this editorial on to find a link to ”Cowboys and Indians learn to share,” an article that Scott Ebright published in the Ohio School Boards Association Journal about the Orrville-Rittman compact that created the shared administration. The Tribune published Ebright’s article as an op-ed in September of 2009.

Yes, the shared administration waters were charted many years ago.

Watson said the idea will be evaluated between now and May when a decision will be made. Like the Obermiyer overpayments, savings from sharing administrators will be a drop in the bucket for a district in as much fiscal distress as Liberty, but if school leaders there want to show the community that they’ve moved beyond the issues that plagued the system in the past they should more expeditiously embrace these cost-saving measures.