The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

July 16, 2013

Super idea on school leader?

Districts mull sharing same superintendent

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHARPSVILLE, GREENVILLE — Sharing superintendent services between schools is in the preliminary discussion stage between Sharpsville and Greenville school boards.

Board members from both districts confirmed they are in talks to share Mark Ferrara, the superintendent of Sharpsville schools.

“We are in the initial stages of discussion to explore ways we can make this work for both,” Bill Henwood, Sharpsville school board president, said.

Dennis Webber, Greenville school board president, said they have approached other schools in the past about shared services.

There is no model for shared superintendent services in any Pennsylvania school district. This would be the first merger in the state, according to members of both boards.

“There is no template for this – no one has done it before,” Dave DeForest, Sharpsville board vice president, said. “The details may be what we make up as we go along.”

“We want to get out in front of the state on this,” Webber said. “We want to write our own rules before the state forces the districts into sharing services.”

Greenville shares a cafeteria director with Jamestown School District and some sports with Commodore Perry and Jamestown schools, Webber said, noting these arrangements have been successful mergers.

Both boards talked about the advantages of shared services.

“The advantage of sharing administrative services is that it still allows every board and school to have their own identity, while offsetting administrative costs,” Webber said.

Henwood said the state is looking for schools to take the initiative, and this may be a way of receiving funding from the state.

“We would save 50 percent on wages and benefits,” Webber said, “The money saved can be put toward something to benefit the students.”

The Greenville school board approved Hendley Hoge as interim superintendent at $500 per day effective July 1 to June 30, 2014. Hoge replaced Pat Hefflin after the board voted in January against renewing her contract that expired at the end of June.

Hoge is former principal of Mercer High School and served as interim principal of Lakeview High School in 2012.

The Sharpsville school board does not meet until August, and though Webber gave no specific end date for the discussion of sharing Ferrara with Sharpsville, he said Greenville has already been through the second round of interviews for a full-time superintendent and they are ready to make an offer.

Both board presidents left the decision of sharing Ferrara up in the air.

“The ball’s in their court now,” Webber said, referring to the Sharpsville board.

“If something develops, we’ll bring it to the board,” Henwood said.