April 15, 2010 —
In separate meetings Monday evening, the Hudson and Morenci School Boards each approved a plan to share a superintendent. Dr. Michael Osborne, Hudson Area Schools Superintendent, will now be the superintendent for both schools. The plan went into effect Tuesday.
The decision to approve the combined superintendent plan wasn’t unanimous. Hudson School Board member Ed Lancaster voted against the plan, citing his opinion that the plan and the potential cost savings had been inadequately studied.
All other Hudson Area School Board members voted in favor of the plan. Morenci Area School Board members also approved the plan at a meeting held at the same time.
“This is a great opportunity,” Osborne said. “I’m proud of both school boards. This is one of the most difficult economic times we have faced in both the state and the school district. I believe we have to consider these kinds of cost savings efforts. The real savings will be down the road when we look at things like co-operative purchasing and other staff positions that can be shared.”
The plan is that the superintendent’s duties will be split evenly between the schools, with Osborne working “at least” forty hours a week, splitting his time and attention between the two districts at each administrative office.
When asked last month his opinion on whether he might be overtaxed by working for the two districts, Osborne said how well the agreement would work would depend on how well he’s supported by each of the school boards. “The first problem with shared management is usually at the top administrator level,” he observed.
Hudson and Morenci have had several shared service agreements in the past few years, especially in bookkeeping and business services, but the top job has never been a consideration until recently, when Kyle Griffith resigned the Morenci superintendency to accept the position of principal at the Lenawee Intermediate School District and Jackson Community College’s new JCC/LISD High School Academy Alternative Program. Morenci High School Principal Nate Parker has been filling in as interim superintendent since Griffith left the job in February.
Further shared services may be under consideration in the future, as well as shared bidding and purchasing to take advantage of volume discounts.
There are approximately 1,700 students between the two districts, with Hudson being slightly larger on a 54-46 percent ratio.
Under the agreement, Osborne would be working part time for each district. He indicated that this would allow each district to maintain its own identity, and that such a sharing would help to stave off state pressure for a more complete consolidation of the districts.
“We have two really good school boards who really want to see this work,” Osborne said Tuesday. “They have been extremely supportive through this.”