Oklahoma school districts share superintendents

Eight Oklahoma school districts received grants from the state Education Department to share superintendents.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: January 21, 2013

— Superintendent Larry Larmon has two of everything — two phones, two email addresses, two offices.

Two school boards.

“It's kind of like having two wives,” Larmon said.

Osage Public Schools has about 200 students. Spavinaw Public Schools has half that. Together, the school districts have one superintendent: Larmon.

This year, eight school districts have taken advantage of a state Education Department grant that rewards districts that share superintendents. The state will pay up to half of a superintendent salary to a maximum of $50,000 annually for three years. Four grants were awarded to:

Byars and Wayne in McClain County.

Cave Springs and Rocky Mountain in Adair County.

Fanshawe and Wister in Le Flore County.

Osage and Spavinaw in Mayes County.

For the grant recipients, superintendent-sharing saves money. But it's also a way for neighbors to help one another.

“When we started this endeavor, the school of Spavinaw was having some difficulty financially, and the school board at Osage wanted to be able to help,” Larmon said.

The grant is a lifeline not only to schools but to towns, said David Powell, superintendent of Wayne and Byars.

“Byars is so small that they're struggling to stay open,” he said. “It gives another avenue to try to keep them open. It's like a lot of little towns that have died out over the years. They have a history. They have school history and a majority of the Byars residents are Byars graduates. They have a sense of pride in their town and their school. They want their kids going to that school.”

Wayne has about 525 students; Byars has 39.

Small towns have felt the pressure of a weak economy, Powell said, and school districts have lost families looking for work in bigger cities.

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