GMUSD votes to make CTES principal permanent But new advert lists position only as 'full time'

By Shawn Cunningham
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Denise Hughes presents the petition to change the interim position to permanent. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

While about 40 people crowded into the Chester-Andover Elementary School library Monday night, around 400 others made their presence felt through a petition asking the Green Mountain Unified School District board to reopen the Cavendish Elementary principal search, changing the job from interim to permanent. In the end, the board voted to do just that.

But on Tuesday, the job was reposted as “full-time” without mentioning the word “permanent.” And by Tuesday evening Cavendish residents were again suspicious of the motives of the supervisory union. The previous posting for the job described it as “interim,” and several residents were concerned that the “full-time” description did not get across that the position would not go away in a year.

Cavendish resident Christine Balch, who attended the meeting, noticed the wording and, according to a Facebook post, this morning sent an email to the supervisory union and several board members asking whether this was a typographical error that needed to be corrected since it gives the impression that it is a one-year position.  Others posted that they would also write the supervisory union.

A call by The Telegraph to GMUSD board chair Marilyn Mahusky Tuesday night had not been returned by the time this article was published on Wednesday morning. On Thursday morning, May 3, Mahusky – who had been traveling on business – called The Telegraph to say that the decision was made for the Cavendish principal position to be permanent and that’s the end of that issue.

Mahusky said that it had been looked at as an interim post to allow flexibility for planning as the new board goes forward, but that the board had heard the concerns of Cavendish residents and made the change.

Petition presented

As the meeting began, Cavendish Elementary board member Denise Hughes presented the board with a petition signed by 401 people including state Rep. Annemarie Christensen and state Sens. Alison Clarkson and Dick McCormack.  Hughes said 66 percent of the signatures came from Cavendish with others coming mainly from towns in the Two Rivers Supervisory Union.

The petition asked the board to make the principal position permanent instead of interim.

Cathy Goodell recounts her experience as an educator with permanent and interim principals.

“It takes more than a year to be vested in a school,” said retired educator Kathy Goodell, who also praised the learning environment fostered by retiring Cavendish principal George Thomson. “I’ve worked for (permanent) and I’ve worked for interim principals and there is a difference.”

Chester resident Sue Willis called it “really sad” that the candidate who was selected turned down the job because she felt the public was not behind her, but that the board has not understood that. Willis said that the candidates were “hearing loud and clear what the taxpayers are saying and you are not.”

Chester resident Sue Willis calling it ‘really sad’ the successful candidate withdrew ‘hearing loud and clear what taxpayers are saying’ but that the board didn’t.

Board chair Marilyn Mahusky recounted the hiring process so far and outlined the three possibilities going forward.

These were to 1. Re-post the position as a permanent job, 2. Consider an interim principal from within the school system – noting that there were two candidates willing to be considered and 3. Re-post as an interim job – the way it had been posted before.

Andover representative Joe Fromberger said his reading of the articles of agreement that formed the Green Mountain Unified School District gave the selection of the principal to the Cavendish Elementary School Board,  which ceases to run the schools in July and is expected to wrap up its work before going out of existence by late 2018. At that time, duties of the CTES board will be taken over by the GMUSD.

Board member Joe Fromberger says the GMUSD articles of agreement put the principal selection in the hands of the lame duck Cavendish board.

According to TRSU Superintendent Meg Powden, the school’s attorney said that it is the GMUSD board that makes the decision. Fromberger asked Powden for that in writing. But Mahusky pointed out that the CTES board met on April 24 and passed a resolution asking that the new GMUSD board change the status of the principal from interim to permanent.

Recording secretary Amber Wilson read from the minutes of that CTES meeting, confirming that it was a unanimous resolution of the board stating its preference for a permanent principal.

Chester representative Erin Lamson moved to make the Cavendish principal position permanent, and fellow Cavendish representative Fred Marin noted that the job would only get a one-year contract to begin with anyway.

The board voted to re-post the job immediately as a permanent post with Fromberger voting no.

Balch then asked the board to clarify if the position was “full time permanent or just full time.”

“Full-time, permanent,” said Mahusky.

“With a one-year contract,” said Powden.

Vetting committee to include member of public

Sara Stowell suggests the search committee be empowered to say ‘no’ if there is not a good candidate.

Cavendish resident Sara Stowell suggested that the committee “be empowered to make a recommendation or to say ‘no’ we don’t have a qualified candidate.”

After a brief discussion of the time involved in serving on the search committee, the board decided to look at who would represent it at its May 8 meeting.  Chester resident and Cavendish Elementary nurse Leigh Dakin asked whether there would be a “vested citizen” on the committee.

Powden called having a member of the public on the committee a “good idea,” a response that came as a surprise to several since she insisted throughout the search for a Green Mountain High School principal that a member of the public was not necessary since board members represent the public. In the past, there have been public members – usually parents – on similar search committees.

On Tuesday, Stowell – one of the petition organizers – said, “This is a good first step, and I encourage Meg and the board to be as open and transparent as possible going forward, I don’t think it’s micromanaging to question a major shift in governance.”

Stowell has been outspoken about the processes that have led up to this, including the move to have one principal overseeing both Cavendish Town and Chester-Andover elementary schools with a “dean of students” in each.

“We’re open to lots of ideas, but that means including the public, staff and faculty and having written backup for why ideas are good. Explain why an idea is the way to go,” said Stowell.

Noting that she is concerned about what will happen at the end of the principal’s one-year contract, Stowell said, “We will be here to support our new principal. Cavendish is an engaged community and the school is linked to how our town does. We’ll work hard with our new principal to do great things and we’ll have their back in nine months.”

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  1. Otis Nelson says:

    Absolutely agree Kathy Goodell. Meg only seems to hear what she wants! What everyone should be asking is what is Meg’s long term plan that she don’t seem to want to share with anyone on the board or the public. She really does need to go!

  2. Kathy Goodell says:

    After reading this report and the omission of the word “permanent” from the CTES job posting I understand why there is the lack of trust in the TRSU.

    I was at the meeting and it was very clear that the petition presented, the board motion and vote were for a full-time permanent principal.

    The GMUSD board needs to hold the TRSU accountable. The board listened to the petition and those in attendance at the meeting. Apparently the superintendent did not!!