The idea of shared school administrations is taking hold near and far. If school districts in Trumbull and Mahoning counties don't figure out ways to share these duties, local teachers and students will continue to get shortchanged.
Nearby, Grand Valley and Pymatuning Valley school districts in southern Ashtabula County have opened discussions on sharing a superintendent beginning this fall. Pymatuning Valley Superintendent Alex Geordan resigned to accept a job in Canfield, prompting the Board of Education to contact Grand Valley about sharing its superintendent, Bill Nye Jr. Each district is expected to save about $50,000 annually, the equivalence of about one teacher.
In Wayne County, Jon Ritchie last month became the superintendent of three districts. Ritchie already was serving as a shared superintendent between Orrville and Rittman districts. Southeast Local School District there (not the Southeast Local School District in nearby Portage County) worked out an agreement with Orrville and Rittman to hire Ritchie as interim superintendent. Southeast will spend one year evaluating the value of making the three-way share permanent. The district expects to save $50,000, the equivalence of about one teacher, for the year.
Sharing administrators is becoming common in Wayne County. Mark Dickerhoof serves as the treasurer for Orrville, Rittman and Green local schools. Ritchie and Dickerhoof point out that communication technology makes it possible, even for districts like Orrville and Rittman, which are not contiguous.
Several years ago, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber proposed merging all school district administrations in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties into three countywide bodies. Like Orrville, Rittman, Southeast, Green, Pymatuning Valley and Grand Valley, each district, school board, building principal, sports team and employee union would remain unchanged, thus protecting the important community identities and local control.
The savings, according to the Chamber, would be enough to fund post-secondary education for every graduate in the three counties that attends a local university, college or trade school.
But the proposal apparently was too much too fast for local administrators and school boards. They reacted vehemently against the idea.
Hopefully they will soon find these smaller steps more palatable. Continuing to cut teaching positions robs students of a quality education. Continuing to ask for levy increases creates animosity in the communities. Easing the financial burden of post-secondary education benefits the entire community.