Search begins for new Two Rivers schools superintendent

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With less than five months before Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Meg Powden is scheduled to step down, the TRSU board began discussing how it would conduct its search for her replacement. Powden resigned her position on Jan. 13,  just seven months into the first year of her two-year contract, and will leave on June 30, 2020.

At the TRSU board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13, member Joe Fromberger, an Andover resident who heads up the Green Mountain board,  began the discussion by saying he knows what an enormous job the search committee will have and so he was making  some recommendations for its structure.

Joe Fromberger outlines what he believes should be the makeup of the superintendent search committee. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

First, Fromberger said there should be co-chairs to share the workload and keep things moving. He also noted that it is important to have enough members to do the job without having so many that it gets bogged down. Fromberger suggested two board members from each district in the SU, two members of the TRSU central office staff, one principal from each district and one teacher from each district for a total of 10. That committee would then elect its co-chairs.

Black River High and Ludlow Elementary Principal Karen Trimboli suggested having a high school student member from the Green Mountain High School for “student voice.”

“I just want to put a plug in for our secondary students in Ludlow-Mount Holly,” said Powden. “Even if we don’t have a high school, they should be considered.”

“I kind of have a problem with people picking their boss,” said board alternate Jeff Hance. “99 percent of this country, you don’t get to hire your own boss. I just don’t know if it’s good practice.”

Fromberger noted that the search committee won’t be deciding but only recommending. Board member Dan Buckley said that the process of narrowing down the candidates is a decision in itself.

But while the TRSU board interviews and chooses the next superintendent, the Agency of Education has the final say. And while the AOE used to just pass on the final pick, there’s a new process – according to Powden – in which the application packages of the finalists have to be sent to the AOE for review and approval.

Hance asked how people will be selected for the committee if more want to participate than fit the numbers Fromberger laid out. Fromberger said that the boards would select their members, the principals will select their teachers and, as for the central office members, Powden would select those. “Obviously, the superintendent will be part of the search,” said Fromberger.

“I’ll be involved,” said Powden regarding the search for her replacement

“I’ll be involved,” said Powden, who told the board that she had already placed an advertisement in School Spring which is an online site for posting education jobs. Powden also distributed  a draft flyer to give to candidates for the position noting that she had set an “ambitious timeline” and saying that there are 12 openings for superintendents in Vermont now and the board has to move quickly.

That includes an application deadline of Feb. 29 and a vote on the finalist on April 2. That leaves very little time for applicants to secure the college transcripts that are listed as required by the SU. None of the other superintendent searches currently listed on School Spring call for transcripts.

Fromberger made a point of saying the board should invite anyone working in the school system who is qualified and has the credentials to be superintendent to apply for the job.

At the Ludlow-Mount Holly Unified Union School District board meeting the night before, chair Paul Orzechowski had asked for two members to serve on the committee. Kelly Tarbell of Mount Holly and Buckley of Ludlow volunteered. The GM board will select its representatives at its Thursday, Feb. 20 meeting.

The TRSU board also decided to include one high school student from each of the two districts.






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