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BMCS, SRF school boards discuss future of shared super

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BRUSHTON - To continue sharing a superintendent or to return to a separate superintendent for each district while maintaining shared services.

This was one of the dilemmas that faced both the Brushton-Moira Central School Board of Education and the St. Regis Falls Central School Board of Education at a joint meeting in Brushton Monday night.

St. Regis Falls School Board President Mickey Smith started the discussion by asking Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES Superintendent Steve Schafer about the time frame for a superintendent search.

While Mr. Schafer said the hiring process could take as little as 120 days, he said six to seven months is “more realistic.”

Mr. Smith said a date needs to be set for both boards to decide what they want to do for a superintendent and cited the fact that the superintendent search could possibly be done at the same time as the Local Government Efficiency Program grant, which both boards jointly pursued to fund a study of a reorganization option for the schools.

Although both boards seemed to want an answer to the superintendent question, they discussed the idea that having the study before the superintendent search could be beneficial since they would then know what to advertise for.

“Why does having one superintendent or two separate superintendents change the studies?” Mr. Smith asked.

Shared Superintendent Beverly Ouderkirk said it may be difficult to attract candidates since, if the two schools were to consolidate, one of the superintendent positions could be lost.

“People want to know what they’re applying for,” she said. “Someone will be out of a job. That’s not real attractive to candidates.”

Mr. Schafer agreed, explaining that depending on the position advertised, different applicant pools could be attracted.

Tracy Edwards-Warren, a member of the Brushton-Moira school board, posed her concerns about having two separate superintendents, citing nine shared services between the two schools.

“What happens if we pull that piece out?” she asked, referring to the shared superintendent’s position. “What happens to the other services?”

Ms. Edwards-Warren said it is possible that all shared services could be lost if the two superintendents do not work well together.

There was also some question as to whether Ms. Ouderkirk plans to stay on as superintendent for one or both of the schools after her contract runs out at the end of the upcoming school year.

Mr. Smith asked her if she plans to stay on, but she said she was “not prepared to respond to that.”

The two school boards decided to put the subject on the agenda for the joint meeting in August and if no decision is made revisit it in September.

Dennis Egan, president of the Brushton-Moira school board, proposed that the two boards approach the topic aggressively.

“We need to get it done with, get it off the table, and move on,” he said.

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