By HOWARD BALABAN
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — MIDDLEPORT — The Royalton-Hartland Board of Education approved a resolution to share Barker’s superintendent at a special meeting Wednesday night.
Starting this summer, Dr. Roger Klatt will be responsible for roughly 2,300 students — just under 900 in Barker and about 1,400 in Roy-Hart.
Sharing a superintendent of schools will save each district between $75,000 and $100,000.
For the past six years, Roy-Hart and Barker have shared a variety of services, most notably combining their respective football teams a couple seasons ago.
Klatt said that success helped lead to his appointment as a dually-titled leader.
“I think this is a proactive step and a bold initiative,” he stated. “Maybe by doing this we’ll find more ways in which we can increase the learning opportunities for our students.”
Klatt said his new role will be “challenging” but it is “something worth trying.”
Outgoing Roy-Hart Superintendent Kevin MacDonald agreed, and he said Klatt is the right person to give it a go.
“Dr. Klatt is the person that can make this work,” MacDonald said. “Hiring people isn’t always about the job, it’s often about the person.”
The new arrangement will start June 1 once all the agreements are finalized. It will last for one year before both school boards revisit the issue.
In the meantime, next school year’s shared services will include the wrestling program, a teacher, and some special education programs, MacDonald said. With those additions, it begged the question of whether a merger could be in the future.
MacDonald responded by noting that both boards have authorized feasibility studies to see what further steps they could take to continue cutting costs and sharing services while remaining separate.
“I can’t say whether this will or will not lead to a merger,” he said. “Regionalism, consolidation, merger, these are all the words that are out there but by sharing a superintendent it gives both district’s an opportunity to see if this works without threatening their finances.”
Klatt acknowledged his new role is vital to the future of both districts. “A lot depends on how this works out,” he said.
Klatt added that he knows of other similar shared superintendent situations, but he said he did not think they involved such a large combined student population.
One local citizen who attended the meeting applauded the move.
“I agree with what you’re doing,” said Don Perry. He asked the board to consider creating a citizens committee to work in conjunction with both boards so as to help find further savings and ways to help students.