CTES principal finalist withdraws, one remains GMUSD will interview last candidate on Tuesday

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Two Rivers Supervisory Union confirmed today that one of the two finalists in the search for an interim principal for Cavendish Town Elementary School has withdrawn from the process, leaving just one to be interviewed by the Green Mountain Unified School District board on Tuesday evening at Chester-Andover Elementary School.

Joseph Smith withdrew his name from consideration for the interim principal position at Cavendish Elementary on Sunday. Telegraph photo

In an email this morning to CTES teachers and staff, Superintendent Meg Powden said that Joseph Smith of Swanzey, N.H., asked to have his name taken out of consideration on Sunday.

Last Wednesday, Smith and Madeline Carlock of West Lebanon, N.H., were interviewed by the public in a well-attended meeting at CTES.

Smith, in his email informing Powden of his decision, wrote that he had “… spent considerable time over the last few days talking with my family, meeting with colleagues and meeting with my current principal. As a result of those conversations, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration from the principal position at Cavendish Town Elementary School.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Smith was asked if he would defend the school from being closed for being too small.  He responded, “The more local control you can have over your school, the better. I have no dog in this fight so I can be a strong advocate for the school.”

The search for an interim principal has been a bumpy ride with 13 applications coming in, of which only six had the qualifications for the job, a TRSU press release stated.  The committee selected two candidates to interview and then one of those took another job, the release said. After the initial interview, the application process was reopened and three more candidates applied. From that group, just one candidate was qualified and was interviewed. The two remaining candidates became finalists after another interview.

In recent school board meetings, both members and the public have speculated that the small pool of applications is a result of the “interim” nature of the job, which would otherwise be attractive to qualified candidates.

The interim post came about when Powden attempted to make Chester-Andover Elementary Principal Katherine Fogg principal of both schools upon the retirement of CTES Principal George Thomson. Many objected. Then in January, she told the CTES and CAES boards that the CTES principal position was restored to a one-year “interim” position.

At recent GM board and committee meetings, members of the Cavendish community have expressed dissatisfaction with having a temporary instead of permanent principal. At last Monday’s GM Vision Committee meeting, Cavendish resident Sara Stowell used the example of the “revolving door ” of principals that Chester-Andover had experienced in the recent past and said, “If they are not ideal, do not move forward.”

GMUSD board member Kate Lamphere, who also serves on the search committee, has also called for a permanent principal in Cavendish. “Madeline is a fantastic candidate, but I’ve done a lot of hiring and I never feel good about having only one candidate,” said Lamphere on Monday morning, “It’s difficult. I feel we should increase the pool, but Meg feels the risk of reopening is losing everybody. I want to make sure we don’t just put somebody in at Cavendish. It’s too important.”

“We’ll be having that conversation on Tuesday,” said Lamphere.

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