Jason Smith, Lyndonville Central School District Superintendent, and Mark Kruzynski, Medina Central School District Superintendent say that their districts' collaboration over the last several years has proven to be very successful.
The districts, like many communities across America, find their student populations dwindling as families get smaller. "In the six and a half years I have been at Lyndonville," says Mr. Smith, "We have worked with Medina on a variety of projects, most notably athletics. We have been able to offer our students marching band, cross country, soccer, football and of course the musical. Looking at our declining populations from both schools and keeping an eye on the long-term, we believe that working together whenever possible is the best thing for our students." Mr. Kruzynski says the partnership benefits everyone. "This expands the amount of programs available for kids, which is the ultimate goal, and expands the quality of the programs for the kids as well. We are always evaluating and always looking at different things that we can share and save money."
The annual musical has been very well received by both the district' communities. Mr. Smith makes the observation that it helps the directors have a bigger cast and more talent to draw from. "It has become a richer experience for the cast, crew and the audience." The two superintendents have even got in on the act. "Mark and I both had the privilege to play in the orchestra this year for "The Addams Family". That was a lot of fun for us."
The superintendents and the athletic directors meet on a regular basis as well to update one another on their findings and discuss how to improve upon their success. "One thing that we are looking at in Lyndonville, in respect to sports, is the transportation department here at the schools to offer more comprehensive transportation," says Mr. Smith. "We don’t want to put the students at a disadvantage to travel to and from Medina. That is something we have heard from our community over the past couple of months and we are looking to make some improvements there." Mr. Kruzynski says that Medina is exploring that as well. "Now that the Girls Soccer will be hosted by Lyndonville next year, we will also be providing transportation for all of our soccer players who need it."
The superintendents have walked a fine line providing collaborative opportunities for all their students while maintaining their individual identities. Both districts believe that their school colors and mascots provide a common thread that runs through generations as symbols of their town's character and history. "It is interesting because both districts wanted to retain their identity as Tigers and Mustangs," says Mr. Smith. "But both of our districts recognize the need to share. We have two districts that work very well together and both Mark and I work well together professionally and that is the key to our relationship."
There has been a nice side benefit for partnering together on the activities as well. "Many of our students have become friends across both districts," says Mr. Kruzynski. "Relationships are being formed that would not be formed otherwise. That was not the primary goal, but it was definitely a benefit."
Planning ahead, both superintendents says they will continue to meet to map out how they can provide the best opportunities for their students. "Our board officers have met and are going to meet again in July to see how things are progressing, assess what is going well and see what we can improve," says Mr. Smith. "We are always looking for ways to save money for both the districts," says Mr. Kruzynski. "In the long-term we are hoping this partnership can evolve to see where we can share costs well into the future."