Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NEWFANE - Sharing is becoming a trend for Niagara County schools, as two more local districts will share a top administrator.
The Newfane and Wilson School Districts will share Superintendent Michael S. Wendt, following approval of an agreement Tuesday night by the Newfane Board of Education. The Wilson Board of Education is expected to act on the same agreement at its reorganizational meeting July 9.
Newfane Board President James Reineke said it is anticipated Wendt will start the dual role next week. Reineke said he was thankful that Wilson was open to the idea of sharing Wendt.
“I appreciate the willingness of the Wilson School Board to consider such an arrangement and further exploring the possibilities that may result from sharing a superintendent,” Reineke said.
Wendt will serve as an interim superintendent in Newfane for at least three months, during which both school boards will assess how the arrangement is working.
Newfane’s superintendency opened up when Christine J. Tibbetts retired June 30, after three years in the district’s top post. Both districts said they saw an opportunity to explore the idea of a shared superintendent, leading to extensive discussions.
The two districts are the second pair of eastern Niagara County schools to share a superintendent. In April, Barker and Royalton-Hartland announced they would share Barker Superintendent Roger Klatt, a move made possible by the departure of former Roy-Hart Superintendent Kevin MacDonald.
Also, Wilson has also been sharing a special education coordinator with Barker since 2011.
Finding ways to be cost-effective has become a priority for school districts these days, especially in Wilson. Wilson will operate under a contingency budget for the 2013-14 school year after two failed budget votes in May and June.
“There have been comments from people in our district expressing the need for our school to continue exploring ways to share duties with other Districts as a means of improving efficiency,” said former Wilson Board President Timothy Kropp.
Barker and Roy-Hart also share a football team, while Barker is looking at sharing some other services, programs and athletic teams. Barker approved a study to look into sharing a high school with Roy-Hart.
Wendt applauded what Barker and Roy-Hart are doing, especially with sharing Klatt.
“The Barker and Roy-Hart School Districts have been innovators in this area,” Wendt said. “The sharing between Barker and Roy-Hart involves two highly functional boards and one excellent district leader. I plan to lean on Dr. Klatt for advice as we begin the
process of sharing the leadership role between Wilson and Newfane.”
There aren’t many districts sharing superintendents in New York. The North Country schools of Mayfield and Northville share a superintendent, as does Brushton-Moira and St. Regis Falls.
The New York State Education Department said Newfane expects to have 1,700 kids enrolled for the 2013-14 year while Wilson is anticipated to have about 1,300 kids.
According to the 2013-14 Wilson budget, Wendt’s salary will be $146,763 with $58,410.59 in benefits. The $205,173.59 total compensation will be split between the two districts, Reineke said.
Wilson and Newfane have a well-known athletic rivalry. When asked who he would cheer for at events, Wendt said he would cheer for which ever team needed it the most.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.