Two school systems to share leader

GLIDDEN – When Vicki Lowe, Glidden-Ralston superintendent, and Leonard Griffith, Paton-Churdan superintendent, both resigned, an opportunity arose for the school districts to embark on a superintendent sharing program.

Dave Haggard, Glidden-Ralston Community School District interim superintendent, said a new superintendent to oversee the two districts is being sought.

“Glidden-Ralston is involved in a superintendent search right now,” Haggard said. “It will be someone, yet to be determined, sharing with Paton-Churdan.”

According to Haggard, who served as superintendent of Fort Dodge community schools from 1998 to 2005, it will be an 80/20 share, 80 percent with Glidden-Ralston and 20 percent with Paton-Churdan.

Serious discussion on the possibility of superintendent-sharing began the previous fall when, following Lowe’s resignation, a search failed to yield a candidate.

“The two parties just couldn’t come to agreement on a contract during the search,” he said. “I was part of the search consulting team at that point in time, and this is my hometown, so one of the things we talked about was an interim.”

This is the second and last year of Haggard’s time as interim superintendent. A superintendent is now sought for the start of the 2013-14 school year, beginning July 1. The timing, though, coincides with Griffith’s retirement from Paton-Churdan.

“As we began getting ready for the search process, we were approached by Paton-Churdan,” Haggard said. “It was expressed at that time Mr. Griffith wished to retire, and that they would like to have Glidden-Ralston consider sharing the superintendent.”

An informal meeting was held between members of the two school district boards, beginning the thought process, Haggard said.

“We reached the point where both boards became involved, and board presidents held some conversations with each other,” he said. “Basic terms of agreement were reached, the agreement was formalized with our school attorney (Danielle Haindfield). We happen to share the same school attorney, so that made that rather easy.”

Applications for the position closed today.

“February should end up with a new superintendent being in place,” Haggard said.

With both districts experiencing declining enrollment, the benefits are many for sharing a superintendent.

“Both schools are of the size that sometime down the line it was probably going to be inevitable that they’d look at that,” Haggard said. “Paton-Churdan has been using Mr. Griffith for about 10 years, and he’s been less than a full-time basis and that’s continued to pare back. So they’re in a situation where other members of the Paton-Churdan staff have taken on some of the day-to-day duties and responsibilities.”

This gives Paton-Churdan a superintendent to meet the legal responsibilities to fill certain executive leadership duties of the position “on terms they’re willing to accept,” Haggard said.

For Glidden-Ralston, this will allow the district “to enter into the sharing arena” and have the opportunity to make the final decisions about who the superintendent is going to be.

“Both sides, of course, will be able to evaluate whether or not it’s been effective,” he said. “It was kind of a ‘best of both worlds’ type of situation. The timing was right and the interest was right.”