GM school board names new CTES principal with insufficient warning

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Green Mountain Unified School District board held a special meeting last night to have an executive session on “contracts,” but that closed door confab was actually to discuss an administrative re-shuffle to replace outgoing Cavendish Town Elementary Principal Deb Beaupre. The result was yet another instance where a local school board stepped over the line of Vermont’s Open Meeting Law.

“These agendas are made by me’ said Fromberger in response to a Telegraph question. File photo

The law allows boards to close the door to the public but only through specific exemptions. While looking at a change in the administrative structure of the schools could involve discussions of personnel issues (for which there are at least two exemptions) the “contracts”  exemption shields the intent of the session from public view.

Under the public comment portion of the agenda near the end of the meeting, The Telegraph objected to the use of the contracts exemption on the grounds that the session was not strictly about contracts and that by not warning the meeting properly, the administration had robbed Cavendish residents of the opportunity to hear about the reshuffle and comment on it before it was voted on.

Board chair Joe Fromberger said that it had been his decision – not that of the administration – to warn the meeting the way he did. “These agendas are made by me,” said Fromberger, who represents Andover.

The proposed administration re-organization plan

Beaupre’s resignation came late in the school year — in late May. By that time, many felt it was too late to do a proper principal search, which normally takes several months, and another option was sought.

Katherine Fogg will be principal of both CAES and CTES but work out of Cavendish. photo from CAES website

After the board came out of a lengthy executive session, Lauren Fierman, the incoming superintendent of the Two Rivers Supervisory Union, was asked to give an outline of the proposed plan before the board voted on it.

Proposing that the two administrators at Chester-Andover Elementary constitute a shared leadership team for both elementary schools in the district, Fierman said Principal Katherine Fogg would be “beginning her day” at Cavendish while Assistant Principal Kevin Fay would be at CAES. Fierman explained that both administrators would have responsibilities for both schools with Fogg as the principal of both.

Fierman said that idea is to institute shared instructional processes in both schools while maintaining each school’s individual character. “Think of this as the best thing to do, not just because of the situation that we are in at this time of year but because at anytime of year this would be the right way to go forward,” said Fierman.

Incoming Superintendent Lauren Fierman introduced the proposal in the executive session and then again in the public session. File photo

In response to a question, Fierman said this is a one-year pilot proposal that will be evaluated in January to see if it is effective. “If we look at it and decide it is not going to be appropriate, we can look at other structures,” said Fierman.

“I would expect that we would be evaluating from Day One and that we can change course at any point to make sure this works for both schools and our district, our teachers and our students,” said GM board member Kate Lamphere of Cavendish.

Before the vote, board member Mike Studin of Chester stated that this move was not part of a plan to close down the Cavendish school or to consolidate into one elementary school.

Noting that Fogg had recently been a finalist for a principal job in a school north of Rutland, The Telegraph asked if there was a commitment on her part to stay for the year.

Fogg said that she had been house-hunting in Chester for five years and applied for the other job in deference to her husband. She also noted that they have found a house in Cavendish, where they will be moving to the town in a month.

“I am excited that I am making that leap,” said Fogg. “And hopefully I’ll be working for the district until I retire.”

The board voted to approve the proposal with member Jeff Hance voting no. In January of 2019, it was Hance who told the board that the faculty and staff of CAES were under “a gag order.”


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