As Panama and Clymer school districts make preparations for the sharing of a single superintendent, other Chautauqua County schools are taking a wait-and-see approach before making a similar decision.
After the two school boards came to terms last month on an agreement to place Bert Lictus, current Panama superintendent, at the head of both districts beginning Oct. 26, other districts are viewing this as a learning experience.
"It will be interesting to see how this particular shared superintendency works out," said Steve Penhollow, Falconer Central School superintendent. "It's really tough to comment a whole lot on it because it hasn't been done in Chautauqua County before, that I'm aware of."
Penhollow said making the decision to consolidate at the administrative level would be challenging in the face of an increasing number of state mandates, such as the Common Core Learning Standards, the Annual Professional Performance Review plans, Race to the Top and the Dignity for All Students Act.
"I wish both Panama and Clymer a lot of success on this because I think it will be a stepping stone for other schools in the county," Penhollow said. "The time period we're in right now is unprecedented in terms of changes made by the state and massive reductions. The state is putting all this emphasis on reducing these woes at the local and taxpayer levels, but they're the ones that keep piling on the mandates."
He added: "I look at it from the Falconer perspective. I think our community is very supportive of our district and the educational opportunities that our kids have at Falconer. And I think they feel that the district manages its resources well. Because of the support of the (Board of Education) and the community, we've been able to keep the high level of courses and services that are offered."
Pete Morgante, Pine Valley Central School superintendent, didn't want to rule out potential consolidation in the future, but expounded that his district is doing everything it can to maintain the status quo.
"They haven't fired me yet," Morgante joked. "We might want to look at it at some point, but as of right now we haven't talked about that and I don't want to speak for the Board of Education. But that could change; anything could happen. We're trying to position ourselves to be pretty financially stable. When teachers retire, we don't replace them. And we're trying to be as smart as we can with our money, and I think it's really benefited us."
Sherman Central School Superintendent Kaine Kelly said the Panama-Clymer agreement is a situation specific to those districts, and Sherman has made no provisions to follow their lead.
"At this point, there is currently no plans for a shared superintendent at Sherman," Kelly said. "We're well aware of the Clymer-Panama situation, and they've been clear in stating its a very specific situation that works for them. If that situation presented itself in Sherman - and aligned itself with the goals and mission of our school, and could in some way better the educational offerings we provide to our kids - I'm sure our Board of Education would explore it to see if it's cost-effective and would be educationally advantageous to our students."