BEVERLY - Being the superintendent of two school districts is no picnic, but if the Fort Frye and Warren Local boards of education want him to keep doing the jobs, Tom Gibbs says he is inclined to do so.
"If I were asked to continue in the dual roles, yes, I would likely accept," Gibbs said Thursday, after Fort Frye's regular board meeting at Beverly-Center Elementary.
The Fort Frye and Warren school districts are six months into an arrangement of sharing Gibbs' services after he served as Warren's superintendent for seven years. That agreement was reached four months after the approval of Warren Treasurer Melcie Wells taking on those duties for Fort Frye as well.
Evaluation forms for Gibbs and Wells were distributed at Thursday's meeting. They will be reviewed by the superintendent, treasurer and board members in closed, executive session at the December meeting. Gibbs plans to ask the board to appoint two members to meet with their counterparts at Warren in January, and for Warren to do the same, to discuss whether both boards wish to continue the arrangement beyond the current fiscal year.
That will also give community members time to share their thoughts on the subject, Gibbs said.
From the Fort Frye board's perspective, the likely answer appears to be yes.
- 6 p.m. Dec. 20, Beverly-Center Elementary School.
"It's the best it's been for 30 years," longtime board member David White said of the district's administration. "This gentleman and Melcie follow the laws right to the letter. I hope we can work out a long-term contract."
The board's newest member, Charlie Schilling, also favors the practice.
"We have certainly showed so far that there are positives that can come from this (sharing of) services," he said.
That goes beyond the nearly $93,000 a year the arrangement is expected to save the district by sharing the salaries of the positions, Schilling said, praising the way Gibbs has handled building and grounds and policy issues. As an example, White pointed to the restructuring of some administrative positions in the district to cover needed duties while saving money.
Gibbs is paid $75,000 a year by each district, and Warren continues to provide his insurance benefits to maintain continuity. Wells receives a salary of $45,000 from each district, with her benefits, which do not include insurance, split between them.
Sharing the positions is expected to yield an annual savings of more than $74,000 for Warren.
Gibbs said pulling double duty is a challenge. He's working more hours and not getting out in the buildings for as much face-to-face interaction as he has in the past. It sometimes takes longer to perform larger tasks, and he's been attending fewer out-of-county meetings and conferences in an effort to spend as much time as possible in the districts.
"It's a lot of work. It's not easy by any measure," Gibbs said.
"That being said, I think if you take a look at what the quote-unquote savings are, the positives outweigh the negatives," he said.
Schilling said it will be important to work with Warren officials to keep the arrangement going.
White said there was a lot of emphasis on sharing services at the Ohio School Boards Association conference earlier this week. Schilling noted that includes working with municipal governments as well as other districts.
Gibbs said the district already works cooperatively with the Village of Beverly in some areas, including sharing trash removal service and the village pool and county library branch being located on district property.