The Cambrian

Coast Unified will stick with shared superintendent through the end of the school year

Current Cayocus Elementary School District Superintendent will now serve as the same at Coast Unified School District.
Current Cayocus Elementary School District Superintendent will now serve as the same at Coast Unified School District.

The Coast Unified School District won’t be looking for a full-time superintendent anytime soon, choosing instead to rely at least for the rest of this year on the interim services of a half-time superintendent and part-time assistant superintendent.

The Board of Trustees and staff members say they received lots of favorable input recently about having Scott Smith share his superintending skills half-and-half between Coast and the Cayucos Elementary School District, and Kyle Martin serving as assistant superintendent (in addition to being principal of Santa Lucia Middle School).

And Smith has said repeatedly he likes his split gigs.

With the upbeat results from listening sessions and a staff survey about the Smith/Martin arrangement, Coast’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted March 14 to not launch a search for a full-time leader for the district that, as of a Feb. 28 enrollment report, was teaching 560 students from transitional kindergarten to 12th grade.

The impetus for making the superintending decision now was timing.

This would have been the prime time to start such a search, Smith has said several times, including during an interview with The Cambrian on Feb. 14. Smith’s current contract runs through June 30, but can be renewed for up to another two years.

According to the resolution the trustees approved, 79 percent of those surveyed rated the results from the shared-services agreement as being satisfactory or excellent, and 75 percent said they thought the shared services should be kept in place.

However, some, including Cambria resident Mark Ober, who had applied to fill a recent trusteeship vacancy on the board, felt there should have been more input from the community and parents.

Board President Samuel Shalhoub indicated that he probably will host at least one more listening session, to make sure everybody has had an opportunity to voice their opinions and make their suggestions.

That inclusiveness and willingness to listen is something stressed often by both Smith and Martin.

The shared services arrangement saves the district some money, both in terms of salaries and benefits, and through other means, such as reduced travel and legal expenses. However, exact total savings are difficult to determine, because the year’s not over yet.

According to the terms of a separation agreement signed in January, previous superintendent Vicky Schumacher is still on the books through June 30, as she’s being paid while she uses up her accrued sick leave.

In June, Schumacher is to receive a lump sum severance equal to three months of her gross monthly salary. That payment replaced an 18-month buyout clause in her contract.

In January, Shalhoub estimated Coast’s total savings for the balance of this school year for superintendent-services salaries and benefits would be about $43,000.

Such savings would be important to any school district in these squeaky-tight financial times, but especially for Coast, which is in its first year of a memorandum of understanding under which high-school students can transfer to schools in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, including Morro Bay High School.

According to a report presented to the board March 14 by Annie Lachance, chief business official, estimated costs based on the number of inter-district transfers for the 2018-19 school year is $170,625. In 2019-2020, that’s estimated to rise to $426,639, and in 2020-2021, to $769,889.

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