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Rural school districts will share administrator to save money

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Goodman-Armstrong Creek High School is seen, April 4, 2013. (courtesy of FOX 11).
Goodman-Armstrong Creek High School is seen, April 4, 2013. (courtesy of FOX 11).

GOODMAN, WI (WTAQ) - A pair of rural school districts in Northeast Wisconsin have found a different way to save money.

The Florence County School District and the Goodman-Armstrong Creek School District will share an administrator. Ben Niehaus, who's currently Goodman-Armstrong Creek's superintendent and principal, will fill both roles.

Last week, both districts approved a measure to hire Niehaus as the next administrator for both districts. The Florence County School District's current administrator is leaving.

The move will save both districts tens of thousands of dollars, according to school board members.

The districts are adjacent to each other, but the central offices are about 30 miles apart.

"I have a philosophy, if we have to make these tough decisions, lets make them as far from the classroom as possible," Niehaus told FOX 11. "In public education, we're being asked to do a lot more, as we have to find creative and unique ways to meet the demands that are placed upon us and I think this is one way."

Starting in July, Niehaus will spend three-days a week running the Florence District and two days a week at the smaller, Goodman-Armstrong Creek School District.

Florence will pay 65 percent of the salary, while Goodman-Armstrong Creek will cover the rest.

It's estimated the Goodman-Armstrong Creek School District will save around $39,000 a year and the Florence County School District is expected to see a $30,000 a year savings.

"Do you think this could be too much of a workload for one person? Do you think performance will suffer? I doubt it," Florence County School Board President Jim Churchill told FOX 11. "Course he's dealing with two different school boards, and two different communities, two different sets of staff, but I think he'll be able to handle that."

The current agreement is for one year. Both sides say if all goes well, it may be a permanent move.

Niehaus says Goodman-Armstrong Creek has found someone to fill the principal position.

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