Two school districts decide to tango with one superintendent

Two Wayne County school districts that have decided to stretch budgets by sharing a superintendent. Orrville City Schools and the neighboring Rittman Exempted Villiage Schools estimate that both districts will each save about $100,000 now and even more down the road by sharing Orrville Superintendent John Ritchie and several other officials.

"It was my idea. I looked at how business and industry does things, how they streamline," Ritchie told The Gadfly. "We have to make the effort to be creative to make money last longer."

While several Ohio districts share treasurers, it's believed sharing a superintendent is a first, at least in Ohio. In addition, the two districts will double up on an assistant superintendent and treasurer as well as EMIS, operations, and business-services directors.

Ritchie, 40, is a 1986 graduate of Rittman and the arrangement became possible when Rittman's superintendent retired.

Running just one district is a full-time job, he said, yet there is lots of duplication. "If I attend a county superintendents' meeting it's not like I can't listen for both districts," Ritchie said. The most challenging task may be attending plays, sports, and other events in both districts. While Ritchie said he is ready to attend more events there will be some nights when he will be unable to be in two places at once.

The two districts will maintain two school boards and separate budgets. Under the deal, which began January 1, Ritchie will continue to make $99,000 a year. The first year, Orrville will pay 80 percent of his salary and Rittman will pay 20 percent. The split will eventually be based on relative enrollments. Now, Orville has about 60 percent and Rittman 40 percent of the students enrolled in the two districts.

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