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Rapid River, Gladstone districts to share leader

August 21, 2012
By Ilsa Matthes - staff writer ( , Daily Press

GLADSTONE - Both Gladstone and Rapid River school boards approved an agreement Monday night to have Gladstone Superintendent Dr. Jay Kulbertis serve as the superintendent for both districts.

For the past two years the Rapid River School District has employed Henry Knoch as a part-time superintendent. Knoch retired at the end of the last school year and in July the district began interviewing candidates, including Kulbertis, for the part-time position.

"There was a council formed between Rapid River and Gladstone school districts to start talking about a dual superintendent role," said Board Trustee Steve O'Driscoll.

The council, which will meet monthly to monitor how the dual superintendency is working, will be comprised of two members from each school board. Representing Gladstone will be Board Secretary Linda Howlett and Board Trustee Bill Milligan. Rapid River will be represented by President Karen Lundquist and Vice President Sally Guay.

The council will be co-chaired by Guay and Howlett.

"There's three contracts that we have here. There's a contract that exists between between our district and Rapid River, and there's an individual contract Jay has with us, and there's an individual contract he has with Rapid," said Milligan.

The Dual Superintendency Cooperative Agreement between the two districts is for two years, however the agreement could be amended or dissolved if the districts mutually decided the agreement is not working.

"We believe that this is going to work. We believe that this is going to be a win-win situation, but we're not going to stick with something for two years if it's not working," said Howlett.

The cost of employing Kulbertis will be split between the two districts with Gladstone paying 70 percent and Rapid River paying 30 percent. The agreement is predicted to save Gladstone approximately $31,000 in the first year. Rapid River will have an increase of about $4,400 from the previous year, but will still be around $60,000 less than 2009-2010, the last year Rapid River employed a full-time superintendent.

"This agreement will allow us to retain our quality superintendent and will provide him with new challenges. At the same time, Rapid River will gain a high-qualified, experienced superintendent at a significant savings over a full-time superintendent," said Howlett.

Negotiations between Kulbertis and each individual district will be limited. "There's shared responsibility because we are agreeing on the total compensation package and we are agreeing on the split between the two districts," said Howlett.

The two districts have shared resources before.

"Gladstone and Rapid River already share services between the two business offices, and we share technology services. We've also worked together on transportation issues, and this is a logical step to address the needs of both districts," said Kulbertis.

Kulbertis also believes there will be less resistance to the the dual superintendency because the two districts are not rivals.

"We don't really compete athletically so there's not that built-in rift with two different fanbases," he said.



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