In the nine-county area served by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, the one shared superintendency is taking place across county borders on the far western edge of the region. As school superintendent, John Evans is shared between the Roscoe School District in Sullivan County (Hudson Valley Region) and the Downsville School District in Delaware County (Catskills Region) each a rural district with a single k-12 building.
Roscoe Superintendent John Evans was contracted by the Downsville school district in July 2013 to evenly split his time between the two small districts, 14.4 miles apart. Downsville had been served by six different superintendents in five years and was again looking to fill the district’s top job. After Downsville could not find a viable candidate, the two districts entered into the one-year experiment. Many of the Roscoe-Downsville sports teams merged at this time as well. Evans, a graduate of Roscoe High School, had been the superintendent at Roscoe since 2009. Smaller and getting smaller, Roscoe (303 in 2000 and 235 in 2012) has considered merging with its neighbor 8 miles to the east, Livingston Manor (683 in 2000; 462 students in 2012), the consolidation effort has never gotten off the ground, leaving Roscoe with a graduating class of 14 as of 2013 .
The arrangement, with Evans making $165,000 per year, gave the Superintendent a $32,440 pay hike. It saves each district $40,000 in salary costs and requires only one benefits package. As a result of the share, the districts pay stipends to the current principals, assistant principals and business officials for their increased responsibilities. Combined, the amount is $25,000.
Evans says that the savings amount to roughly one percent of the budget, which could mean the salary of one teacher. Alternatively, he said, it’s an amount that can help the districts stay within the tax cap. In small districts, costs of central administration tend to be especially high because there are few economies of scale (see below).
Savings alone however are not enough of a reason to enter such an arrangement, Evans said. There can be other benefits. Evans believes being the head of two districts has allowed for swifter collaboration, knowing both districts in-depth allows him to “cross pollinate” in ways which make most sense of both districts. For instance, one language teacher provides the class to both districts; a science teacher may follow suit.
A problem in small rural districts is fast turnovers in staff. Experienced staff often leave for higher paying jobs in wealthier districts. Sharing a superintendent allows districts to offer more competitive salaries which can lead to stability in the administration.
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John Evans – July 2013- July 2015
Enrollment (2012-2013) – Budget
Roscoe (Sullivan County) 235 – 2013-2014 budget -$ 7.74 million
Downsville (Delaware County) 279 – 2013-2014 budget – $9.59 million
Salary split: 50/50
Time split: 50/50; flexible day-to-day
Contract: five year with Roscoe; year to year with Downsville
Distance apart: 14.4 miles
Additional stipends to administrators affected by the share:
PK-12 Principal: $6,000 PK-12 Principal: $5,000
AP/CSE Chair: $4,000 K-8 Admin/ Dir. of Guidance: $3,000
Business Official: $5,000 District Treasurer : $2,000
Downsville savings on salary & benefits according to Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES : $53,500
Roscoe savings on salary & benefits according to Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES : $68,870
Demographics Roscoe Downsville
Black or African American 1% 2%
Hispanic or Latino 10% 2%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1% 0%
White 87% 95%
Eligible for free lunch 33% 42%
Eligible for reduced lunch 5% 18%
source: NYSED 2012-2013