May 8, 2013

Innovation starts at the top

ST. REGIS FALLS — Donna Andre worked at St. Regis Central School most of Tuesday, then headed to Brushton-Moira Central as evening approached for meetings there.

She’s superintendent of both schools — the first districts in New York state to share a top administrator.

“Each community is uniquely different, with special qualities about both places. I try to keep all St. Regis Falls in one place and Brushton-Moira in another,” Andre said. 

“That helps me to stay organized.”

The shared administrative position saves $76,414 for Brushton-Moira and $81,148 for St. Regis Falls this year. 


That innovation is one that is catching on, said Bob Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.  

Last week, Royalton-Hartland Central and Barker Central schools in Niagara County announced a one-year shared-superintendent trial. That will expand on the special-education program, business teacher, wrestling team and football program the districts already share.

The Penn Yan, Dundee and Marcus Whitman school districts in the Finger Lakes region held a joint meeting in December to discuss similar sharing, but no decisions were made.

Lowry says such innovations can work on other parts of the state and save money, but many factors are involved.

“The North Country is different because you have (some) examples of districts that are property-rich with second homes more so than other parts of the state,” he said.

“In the Southern Tier, they are nearly all poorer districts than in the North Country — but then the districts in the North Country are a bit larger in square miles compared to other parts of the state.”


Westport Central School District watches its administrative pennies in another way.

Dr. John Gallagher is a part-time superintendent.

“I started five years ago,” he said. “That’s part of the way we save money. Because I’m ‘retired,’ that means I don’t have to have some of the benefits that other superintendents require.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints