School boards in the greater Tri-Lakes area are off to a good start in seriously considering the possibility of sharing a superintendent and/or other services to save money.
We hoped they would and advocated it strongly in several editorials, but we weren't sure they would get to it as quickly and earnestly as they did.
They apparently understand that:
-It's a feasible and sensible suggestion, and it's being done reasonably well in Brushton-Moira and St. Regis Falls.
-It could save some tax money - not enough to solve all their problems but enough to help significantly.
-If there is ever a time to try it, it's now, since each of the Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Keene districts is looking for a superintendent to begin next summer.
Judging by this recent Enterprise Web poll (July 30 to Aug. 6), local residents don't expect much to actually happen:
Which of these shared-services options do you think is most likely for local schools?
|4%||Share business managers|
|1%||Share bus services|
Whether or not local people think sharing these services is likely, we know that many of them want to see it happen, for the same reasons we do:
-Sharing district-level administration would be an important step toward efficiency that will make our North Country school network more flexible as the state crunches school districts between the local property tax cap and decreased state aid.
-If schools have strong principals, superintendents and business managers can be much more remote than the intimate relationship we are used to.
-Our schools have already cut deeply - perhaps too deeply - into their ranks of teachers. This reduces students' course options and increases their class sizes, which, by necessity, reduces the quality of education we're giving our kids. If cuts are necessary, it's better to chop at the top, in a way that doesn't hurt our children's future.