Sheila Roley has worn many hats during her career in education. This school year, she’ll have to dust off an old one.

In addition to her duties as Seaside High School’s principal, this year Roley also will be principal of Broadway Middle School – a job she held for seven years before becoming principal of the high school.

“I’m excited about it,” Roley said. “I kind of feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds.”

Roley’s additional role at Broadway was one of the district’s solutions to a $1.55 million budget shortfall.

“Like all other school districts, we’ve had to make budget reductions,” said Doug Dougherty, superintendent of the Seaside School District. “Since about 85 percent of our budget is in personnel, we knew it meant personnel reductions.”

Former Broadway Principal Doug Pease was leaving the district for Portland, and Roley offered to take on his duties, ensuring that at least one job would be saved. As a longtime science teacher, Roley understood the importance of retaining as many teachers as possible.

“The last place we want to reduce is in the classroom,” she said. The question became, “What’s the best case for kids in their learning?”

“Sheila very quickly volunteered to take on both schools,” Dougherty said, “and then came in and made some convincing points to me.”

As Roley sees it, having one principal oversee both schools could provide valuable stability.

“The middle school to high school transition is a larger one for kids, and it might really support that cohesiveness to have one principal oversee that transition,” she said.

This educational continuity was a major selling point when Roley and Dougherty discussed possibilities for handling the budget cuts.

Roley will be able to have a ”seamless sixth-through-12th vision for all programs, and that’s something that she wasn’t able to have previously,” Dougherty said. And, depending on individual teachers’ licensing, the expanded role will also allow her to have greater flexibility in staffing both schools, Dougherty added.

Dougherty said he feels Roley can handle the challenge: The combined staff of the two schools now is approximately the same size as what the high school's staff had been previously under Roley. Roley also knows the middle school staff members well, having hired a good portion of them.

“Sheila is an outstanding administrator, and she’ll do a wonderful job with this,” Dougherty said.

Roley is buoyed by her belief in her assistant principals, Seaside High School’s Jeff Roberts and Broadway Middle School’s John McAndrews, who is new to the district.

“I have two outstanding assistant principals,” Roley said.

Roley’s additional role at Broadway Middle School reflects a district-wide emphasis on getting middle school students on the road to high school graduation as early as possible.

“We’re taking a clear look at the path from an 11-year-old to a high school graduate,” Roley said. “We are really supporting a cohesive and aligned program.”

Though she will be principal of both schools and values the possible cohesiveness of the arrangement, Roley stressed that both schools will retain their distinct characters.

“Each school will still have its own true identity,” the principal said.

Enlisting one principal to oversee both schools was seen as an inevitability for those behind a proposed campus that would take the district’s four schools out of the tsunami zone and combine them on the hills east of Seaside. The district is seeking voter approval of a $128.8 million bond measure for the campus in November.

“We already knew that this was an efficiency that we saw ourselves utilizing when we moved to the K-12 campus,” Dougherty said.

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