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St. Regis Falls, Brushton-Moira ending shared superintendent arrangement

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By OLIVIA PEPE

ST. REGIS FALLS - The St. Regis Falls and Brushton-Moira Central schools will no longer share a superintendent or a chairman of the committees on special education and preschool special education as of July 1.

“It isn’t a reflection one bit on our CSE chairperson or our superintendent,” SRF board President Mickey Smith said, adding the board was satisfied with both their performances. “We think we might be better served with one full-time position.”

Mr. Smith said that though he believed both parties were doing an adequate job, he said “they’re just sustaining” in their positions.

“I’m very disappointed that it didn’t work out,”Brushton-Moira school board member Dennis Egan said.

Shared Superintendent Donna André said ending the two shared services positions was first discussed in executive session at the SRF board meeting on April 22. Brushton-Moira board members discussed it at a special meeting Monday, according to Ms. André.

Todd LaPage is the shared chairman of the committees on special education and preschool special education between the schools.

Both will become full-time Brushton-Moira employees.

Ms. Andre, who entered the shared superintendent’s post after serving as the high school principal for five years at Chateaugay Central School, was hired in December 2012 with a starting base salary of $125,000.

St. Regis Falls has an enrollment of approximately 325 students, and the Brushton-Moira school district has an enrollment of approximately 480 students.

Shared Business Manager Susan Perkins, whose position will remain shared by the two districts, said there St. Regis Falls’ revenue will be lower due to the loss of revenue without Brushton-Moira’s payment of its portion of the salaries.

“With those two changes, it meant that St. Regis Falls had to pull an additional $105,000 from fund balance,” Ms. Perkins said, noting the finances for the decision were worked into the district’s 2014-15 budget.

She noted that BMC board cut two budget line items to cover the increased expenses of having to convert two part-time position to full time.

Currently, Ms. André is shared between the schools on a 50/50 basis.

Mr. LaPage is currently spending 40 percent of his time at SRF.

Ms. André saidshe was “shocked”when she first learned of the SRF board’s thoughts on just having one superintendent,.

“I was disappointed,” Ms. André said, but she noted she was hopeful the SRF board would change their mind in the future.

“You can’t ever close any of those doors,” she said.

Mr. LaPage said he was fine with the decision the board made and that he supported their decision.

Brushton-Moira Central School Board of Education President Marice Bright said she had mixed views on the move.

“I feel like we’re giving up on it way to soon, but on the other hand I’m not disappointed because, I feel, we are getting two outstanding administrators,” she said.

As for the future budget, Ms. Bright said the board will be looking into different ways to help cut costs.

“We’re looking very creatively at some additional duties ... to come up with some things they can take on that may be able to cut little bits here and there to make it more cost effective,” she said, stressing it would not involve cutting positions.

Mr. Egan noted he was more disappointed in SRF’s failure to fully follow the contract for the shared superintendent position.

He said as per the contrac, discussions should have happened between the boards before SRF decided to terminate the shared service. Another part of the contract was to give a six-month notice of terminating the position.

But Mr. Egan noted tthe Brushton-Moira board would not utilize the terms of the contract to delay the decision by St. Regis Falls school officials.

Mr. Smith said Ms. André’s last day will be June 30, though a resolution still needs to be passed by both schools.

Mr. Smith said the St. Regis Falls board expects to hire an interim superintendent starting July 1, until they find someone to fill the position.

He noted that the decision was difficult for SRF board members to make.

“It’s great opportunity for Brushton, because anytime you can add personnel like that, it’s better for everybody involved and I think it will help us better meet state requirements,” said Brushton-Moira High School Principal Steven Grenville said, noting he was also disappointed that the shared positions didn’t work out.

St. Regis Falls Principal Marc Czadzeck said having the full-time positions in the building “would make the ins and outs of the daily tasks more plausible.”

But Mr. Czadzeck noted he didn’t agree with the overall decision.

Ms. André was chosen to be the shared superintendent in December 2012, following the resignation of former Shared Superintendent Beverly Ouderkirk.

She started her new duties in February 2013.

Ms. Ouderkirk started the shared position on July 1, 2011, making the schools the first in the state to have a shared superintendent position.

Mr. Smith noted the shared superintendent position was a gateway to other shared services between the schools.

“The positives that have come out of this, I want to continue to do those things,” Mr. Smith said, adding that he would also like to continue joint board meetings “to figure out what things are working and what things we want to continue.”

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