The Northville and Mayfield school districts are looking to share leadership to save money.
At a recent joint meeting, members of both boards of education voted to hire one interim superintendent to manage both districts.
“We’ll be looking for someone with all the skills of an average superintendent,” said Northville school board President Jim Beirlein, part of a four-member subcommittee charged with drafting a contract, “but the candidate will have to deal with two separate districts with two separate budgets and two unions in two places. We’ll need someone with a lot of experience.”
Debra Lynker is currently acting as interim superintendent for Northville and Mayfield Superintendent Paul Williamsen is retiring at the end of the school year. Neither could be reached Wednesday.
According to Beirlein, the usual salary range for an interim superintendent is between $450 and $600 a day for districts of comparable size, but Northville and Mayfield expect to pay more than that — $700 to $1,000 a day. Even at that higher rate, though, the combined savings should fall somewhere in the range of $40,000 over one year, compared with the cost of hiring two interim superintendents.
“We desperately could use the money,” he said. “We need to concentrate on staff development. Almost every district in the state needs to do the same. This will free up some funds.”
Savings wasn’t the board’s sole motivation, though; Beirlein supported a proposed school merger in September. Mayfield approved the merger, which would have netted the combined district an extra $18 million in state aid over 15 years, but Northville voted it down, 457-256.
Another straw poll on the proposal will take place in May or June. It’s not a binding vote, but will allow Northville officials to do a detailed study on what a merger would look like.
“Last time, people were voting on misinformation,” Beirlein said. “If we’re allowed to do a more in-depth study, people might see the advantages.”
If the straw poll comes out the way he hopes, a second vote could take place in the fall. If voters approve, a full merger could take place as soon as July 2014.
A shared superintendent and the potential merger may seem unrelated, but the calendar lines up nicely. Beirlein’s subcommittee is still in the process of drawing up a contract detailing how much time the interim superintendent will spend at each school and how much money each district will pitch in.
Ideally, the contract will be done in a few weeks, with a search coordinated by Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES wrapping up by the end of the current school year. The job is set to last a year, ending just as Beirlein hopes a merger will be taking place.
“This way,” he said, “neither district will have a permanent superintendent to deal with the consequences of a merger. The actions we’re taking now open up a lot of opportunities.”