All around Saline, people are pitching in to help each other during this unprecedented period.
This week, Saline Area Schools officially agreed to help their neighbors to the west. The Saline Board of Education approved a cooperative agreement that essentially shares Superintendent Scot Graden with Manchester Community Schools from April 13-June 30.
Manchester is paying Saline Area Schools $1,000 a week. Graden is not being compensated. Graden is expected to visit the Manchester Community Schools for the equivalent of at least one day per week. He is expected to attend meetings, draft grant applications and perform other administrative duties. In the meantime, Manchester is expected to hire a permanent superintendent.
"I'm excited to help Manchester. I hope they find the appropriate and positive long-term superintendent who'll help the district do great things for their community," Graden told to the board during a remote meeting Tuesday.
He also told the board the current closure of school buildings due to the COVID-19 panedemic made it possible for him to assist Manchester.
"Given the unique circumstances, including not running buses and running athletic programs, which take a fair amount of time, this was a chance to partner during a very short window in a way that might not be there again. I wouldn't consider doing this in a traditional environment,"Graden said.
Board Trustee Tim Austin said he thought it was a great opportunity for Graden and Saline Area Schools to help their neighbor. He noted the district was "not getting rich" off the agreement. He also said the agreement holds the district harmless should there be any unforeseen legal issues.
Trustee Dennis Valenti noted a 30-day window gives Saline Area Schools the opportunity to terminate this deal early should it prove at all harmful to Saline Area Schools.
Trustee Jennifer Steben said she was glad Saline Area Schools was in position to "be a helper" for Manchester. She said the deal means Graden will return 100 percent of his focus to Saline Area Schools on July 1.
Manchester Community Schools was without a superintendent, in part, because of Saline Area Schools. Ryan Rowe left Adrian Madison schools in Lenawee County to become director of the South & West Washtenaw Consortium. Adrian Madison schools then hired Manchester Community Schools Superintendent Nick Steinmetz. Manchester then hired Kevin Upton on an interim basis in January.
The K-12 enrollment has spiraled from over 1,300 in 2005-06 to just 871 this year. The resulting budget stress caused the district to recently eliminate the athletic director and community education/preschool coordinator.