GMUSD board preps for next year as Fierman departs

By Lorien Strange
© 2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The calm of Superintendent Lauren Fierman’s final meeting with the Green Mountain Unified School District Board last Thursday stood in contrast to the turbulence and tension throughout her last year with the Two Rivers Supervisory Union. With the school year done and the All Board Retreat still to come on July 12, the board was set to take a breath and thank Fierman for her two years as principal at GM and four as TRSU superintendent.

Reflecting on her tenure with GM and TRSU Fierman said "We’ve made our way through all sorts of hard things. But we can do hard things." <small> Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Reflecting on her tenure with GM and TRSU Fierman said “We’ve made our way through all sorts of hard things. But we can do hard things.” Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Fierman announced her resignation in May of last year after the board voted to keep the Chieftain brand. That move was reversed in a later meeting, but at the time, Fierman said she would be unable to support the board’s original decision. Fierman offered to stay on as superintendent until TRSU could find a replacement.

“For everyone in the district, I want to thank you for all of the kindness and support and hard work,” said Fierman. “Most of us consistently put students first. And from water-main breaks to bomb threats, global pandemics, floods, we’ve made our way through all sorts of hard things. But we can do hard things. We can be generous and flexible and kind.”

Throughout the meeting, TRSU staff stopped to thank Fierman for her leadership through times of adversity. “All through it,” said Todd Parah, director of operations. “Whether anybody agreed with the decisions or how it worked out, Lauren brought us through that with a ‘yes, if’ perspective…I believe that if all of us went through life with a ‘yes if,’ instead of a ‘no, because,’ the world would be a better place. And I will bring this ‘yes, if’ through the rest of my life.”

When the board meets at its retreat in July, it will be joined by incoming Superintendent Layne Millington, who is currently the superintendent of the Orange Southwest Supervisory District based in Randolph.

Todd Parah praised Fierman’s ‘yes, if’ outlook saying ‘if all of us went through life with a ‘yes if,’ instead of a ‘no, because,’ the world would be a better place.’

The meeting ran without any interruptions or public comments as the board dove into preparations for the next school year. Filling GMUSD’s last staff vacancy at a time when other Vermont public schools are struggling to become fully staffed for next year, the board approved a new physical education teacher for the high school.

Currently of Washington, D.C., Tom Glass is working on his certifications to teach physical education and health. “We’re lucky,” GM Principal John Broadley said, adding that after Glass toured the school and spoke with several staff members, he had seemed “a little overwhelmed” but also “very excited and very energetic” and invested in becoming part of the GM community.

The board also reviewed TRSU’s new definitions of success in math and literacy. TRSU K-12 Math Coordinator Julie Parah and K-6 Literacy Coordinator Emma Vastola explained that these definitions, which are modeled after proposed Vermont Agency of Education language, build expectations for graduating students and provide benchmarks roughly every two years throughout a K-12 education. TRSU’s goal is to have 80% of students meet these benchmarks, as measured through tests based on state and national standards, and provide layered supports for the other 20% still working toward grade-level proficiency.

The board also approved the use of budgeted capital improvement funds for three projects at Chester-Andover Elementary School and Cavendish Town Elementary School:

  • $14,000 to add a 40-by-100 foot parking area to the CAES parking lot. Parah said that this is not expected to ameliorate traffic problems, but it will “help dramatically” with the safety of buses backing up in the parking lot. The lot will not be paved but rather covered with packed gravel.
  • Up to $15,000 for painting the CTES building and fixing the rotting soffits in addition to the $40,000 already budgeted for the project. Parah explained that the numbers in the budget reflected quotes from November 2023. Since then, local contractors had booked out work for the summer, so the initial budgeted funds no longer reflect current costs.
  • $11,211.96 for upgrades to the CTES security system.

The GMUSD Board will next meet for the All Board Retreat on Friday, July 12, and its next regular public meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15. Both meetings will take place in the GMUHS Library, 716 VT-103. The public can join the August meeting via Zoom. There will be no remote option for the retreat.

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  1. Heather Chase says:

    Thank you for ALL you’ve given to our community. You’ll be missed!

  2. Sharon Jonynas says:

    Bravo, Lauren Fierman! “Generous, flexible, and kind” are words to live by. You will be missed.