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May 9, 2013

Downsville approves shared superintendent

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Downsville Central School recently announced a unique plan to find a permanent replacement for a superintendent vacancy, several of those involved said Wednesday. The district will share a superintendent with nearby Roscoe Central School, starting July 1.

John Evans who has been Roscoe Superintendent since 2009 is expected to be appointed to the job at the May 13 board of education meeting, Downsville Central School Board of Education President Dale Stone said. The position is currently held by interim Superintendent Charlotte Gregory.

The Roscoe board is expected to approve the plan later this month.

The districts are already largely sharing their athletic programs. With Downsville having a period of interim and short term appointments, Stone said this seemed like a logical step to bring stability to the district with an experienced superintendent.

Evans’ experience was a quality that many of those applying for the job lacked, Stone said, adding that it’s a one-year experiment the board was excited about.

“I think it will work,” Stone said.

Evans’ salary will be split equally between the districts, and his time will be shared as needed. Evans said while the final terms of his contract are being negotiated, the proposals call for each district to pay $82,500. Currently he is paid $131,560 at Roscoe, which has 279 students. Downsville, which has a student enrollment of 301, has been seeking a superintendent at about $115,000 to $120,000, he said.

According to Downsville school attorney John Lynch, a change in state law in 2011 made the arrangement easier for rural schools of under 1,000 students. A 1992 law had made the process more cumbersome.

“It sounded like an interesting challenge,” Evans said, adding he didn’t know of any other school in the area that was doing this. In the current economic climate, with officials favoring consolidation and reorganization, “our districts looked at ways to make their operations more efficient,” without merging, which neither district was interested in, he said. It’s a unique opportunity that other small rural schools might try if it’s successful, he said.

When he started in Roscoe, there was also a revolving door of administrators, which is not good for any school, he said. As a 1989 Roscoe Central School graduate with a family living in Livingston Manor, he said: “I’m not looking to move off.”

Evans said he hopes the arrangement can work as a long-term solution. The biggest challenge will be for residents to understand that as one person, he can’t be involved in everything a superintendent traditionally is, he said, and how he divides his time will depend on what’s going on at each district.

Evans said videoconferencing will also play a role.He started his career in 1994 at Hammondsport Central School as a technology education teacher, and before coming to Roscoe he was assistant superintendent for technology and student information at Fallsburg Central School from 2008 to January 2009.

Evans earned his certificate of advanced study in educational administration from SUNY New Paltz in 2005.