GROVE CITY -- In a bold step to reduce expenses and yet meet the needs of students, the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District has reduced its administrative team to the bare bones.
Some say it could be a model for other small districts to follow.
Starting next year there will be just two people in the top roles of superintendent and principal for the 787 students that are spread out in three buildings located in the district.
In the recent past, ACGC had a superintendent, one elementary principal and one junior/senior high principal. For the past two years, the superintendent has been a part-time interim position. Roger Rueckert, the current interim superintendent, will end his oneyear post in June.
Acting on the recommendation of the administrative search committee, the school board agreed Monday to restructure the district's administration.
Existing staff will be used to fill the positions.
The board named Sherri Broderius as superintendent. She will also serve double-duty as the grade 9-12 principal in Grove City and the elementary principal at South Elementary in Cosmos.
Broderius, who has been with ACGC for 26 years as a teacher and/or principal, is currently the grade 5-12 principal in Grove City.
Dave Oehrlein will serve as principal at North Elementary in Atwater, the grade 5-8 principal in Grove City and also the child study coordinator.
Oehrlein is currently the principal at both elementary schools.
Broderius and Oehrlein will be "on call" for needs that arise in any of the buildings. There will also be "lead teachers" in each of the buildings that will be tapped to respond to emergencies if Broderius or Oehrlein are not present.
Chairwoman Judy Raske expressed reservations about having a "very lean administration" and questioned the effect on students if a "lead teacher" was pulled out of the classroom to handle an administrative duty.
Broderius said she and Oehrlein have an "outside-the-box-kind-ofthinking" plan to handle that, but they declined to discuss it until they'd presented the details to teachers. She assured the board that students would not be left unattended.
Raske said there will need to be "good communication" between the two administrators to coordinate the elementary school activities.
In a later interview, Broderius said she and Oehrlein work together very well and practically "read each other's minds."
Oehrlein echoed that, saying they're both excited about the new challenges for themselves and new opportunities for the district.
Broderius said she believes smaller districts can effectively streamline their administration and that ACGC will be a model for others.
Board member Joel Gratz said the committee has met with staff to answer questions about the new structure and said additional meetings will be held quarterly.
Gratz said teachers were told the board isn't going into the restructuring with "blinders on." He said the board should be "flexible" and make changes if necessary to tweak the plan.
Broderius said she has a "positive nervousness" about her new job.
She cited her 26 years with the district, helping interim superintendents do their jobs and living through the process of statutory operating debt as valuable experience for leading ACGC.
"I will bring serious consideration to the budget and how budgetary decisions are made," said Broderius, who obtained her superintendent license in 2005.
Her priorities include fiscal responsibility, staff development and providing a curriculum that will prepare students for the future.
After the unanimous vote for the restructuring, Raske wished Broderius and Oehrlein well with their new roles. "Good luck," she said. "It'll be interesting."