Former Flood Brook teacher offered principalship at CAES

The Green Mountain Unified School District board meets last night at Chester-Andover Elementary School and via Zoom to interview and vote on a new principal. Screen capture from Zoom.

The Green Mountain Unified School District board meets last night at Chester-Andover Elementary School and via Zoom to interview and vote on a new principal. Screen capture from Zoom.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Board of Directors of the Green Mountain Unified School District, during a special meeting on Wednesday night, voted to offer Joanne Blane, an instructional coach for the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union and former teacher at Flood Brook School in Londonderry, a one-year contract as principal of Chester-Andover Elementary School.

The board also voted to authorize Lauren Fierman, superintendent of the Two Rivers Supervisory Union, to negotiate the salary and other conditions of the contract. During the two public comment periods there were questions about the process omitting sessions to introduce finalists to the faculty and students.

Should she accept the offer, Blane will replace Katherine Fogg, who is retiring after serving as principal since 2015.

Blane had taught at Flood Brook for 13 years before taking the position with the BRSU. In the early 2000s, she had been a fill in teacher at CAES, taught full time at Grafton Elementary and Leister Elementary as well as Green Mountain College. You can read Blane’s application here.

The GMUSD board had called the special meeting to interview in person two candidates for principal of Chester-Andover Elementary School, Blane and Elizabeth Grunberg, the principal at Bennington Elementary School. Last Thursday, Blane and Grunberg had met over Zoom with parents and teachers.

Before and after the executive session, the process came under scrutiny. Minutes into the meeting, CAES teacher and union representative Jeremy Kelloway asked why neither finalist was invited into the school to meet teachers and students like had happened before. He called it a “normal course of action for new hires.”

Fierman disagreed, saying that time spent like that “wasn’t something I experienced other than at Cavendish.” She said that school’s principal search was conducted that was “because it was presented to me as the way they do it.” However, she added, “I don’t think a lot” of insight was gotten out of it. She also said that when she was interviewed for the principal position at GM, there was a public meeting, but “I wasn’t invited to meet students and teachers at the school.”

Following the board vote, the issue came up again when Peter Cherubini reiterated Kelloway’s concern, saying “having been on the search committee with Cavendish,” why didn’t the board adhere to the Cavendish model by bringing the candidates into the school to meet students and teachers.

When Fierman repeated her claim that the model was unique to Cavendish, Cherubini replied, “I have to disagree with you on that. With Katherine (Fogg, CAES principal) they did go through the school. There was also a set batch of questions asked of the candidates.”

The next meeting of the GMUSD board will be held at 6 p.m. tonight at Green Mountain High School, 716 VT-103 in Chester. You can also access the meeting via Zoom by clicking here.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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