BY JOE OLENICK
Niagara Gazette — NEWFANE — The Newfane and Wilson School Districts will share Superintendent Michael S. Wendt for three months, following approval of an agreement Tuesday night by the Newfane Board of Education. The Wilson Board of Education is expected to act on the same agreement at its reorganizational meeting on Tuesday.
Newfane Board President James Reineke said he's anticipating Wendt will start the dual role following the meeting. Reineke added he was thankful Wilson was open to the idea of sharing.
“I appreciate the willingness of the Wilson School Board to consider such an arrangement and further exploring the possibilities that may result from sharing a superintendent,” Reineke said.
Wendt will serve as an interim superintendent in Newfane for at least three months, during which both school boards will assess how the arrangement is working.
Newfane's superintendency opened up when Christine J. Tibbetts retired Sunday, after three years in the district's top post. Both districts said they saw an opportunity to explore the idea of a shared superintendent, leading to extensive discussions.
The two districts are the second pair of eastern Niagara County schools to share a superintendent. In April, Barker and Royalton-Hartland announced they would share Barker Superintendent Roger Klatt, a move made possible by the departure of former Roy-Hart Superintendent Kevin MacDonald.
Also, Wilson has also been sharing a special education coordinator with Barker since 2011.
Finding ways to be cost-effective has become a priority for school districts these days, especially in Wilson. The district will operate under a contingency budget for the 2013-14 school year after two failed budget votes in May and June.
“There have been comments from people in our district expressing the need for our school to continue exploring ways to share duties with other districts as a means of improving efficiency,” said former Wilson Board President Timothy Kropp.
Barker and Roy-Hart also share a football team, while Barker is looking at sharing some other services, programs and athletic teams. Last week Barker approved a study to look into sharing a high school with Roy-Hart.
Wendt applauded what the districts are doing.
“The Barker and Roy-Hart School Districts have been innovators in this area," Wendt said. "The sharing between Barker and Roy-Hart involves two highly functional boards and one excellent district leader. I plan to lean on Dr. Klatt for advice as we begin the process of sharing the leadership role between Wilson and Newfane.”
At this time there is at least one other Superintendent being shared in New York state between the North Country Schools of Mayfield and Northville.