Letter: Broaden the superintendent search

Broaden the superintendent search

Editor of the Reformer:

Act 46 is not the only challenge facing our school district – WSESU. Our superintendent is retiring at the end of this school year. The process for hiring his replacement is currently limited to an 'internal' search – looking strictly within our current WSESU pool of employees for a candidate. There may be as few as one applicant. This strikes me as an inherently flawed and rushed process.

People volunteering to serve on review committees are being asked to sign confidentiality agreements to not even disclose the number of applicants! Our small and active community works against such attempts at secrecy. It strikes me as unfair to both the applicant and the community to create such a situation. A transparent process is essential or the credibility of the process is undermined.

The reasons for this 'internal' and 'confidential' search process were explained at the Brattleboro Town School Board meeting on September 21 (you can view it on BCTV). However, each of the reasons put forth is easily challenged. Just because a neighboring district found a new superintendent in a similar manner does not mean that it fits our community. Should applicants from other states really be discounted because they do not understand our Vermont schools? One of the new Act 46 mergers in northern Vermont just hired a new superintendent from Oregon.

I would ask the area town school boards, the BUHS board and the WSESU board to review this process before it goes any further. As I discuss this situation with friends and neighbors I have found widespread agreement with my own concerns and uneasiness with this current hiring plan.

With such a huge number of challenges and changes potentially coming our way in WSESU this is an opportunity to look beyond our own staff, to have a public conversation and to find the best leadership possible to tackle the awesome challenges coming our way over the next few years. We could be shifting from five distinct school boards to a single nine member board – or something else – looking over a budget in excess of $45 million.

Serving the children of this community is one of our most important obligations. Let's take the road that has the potential for the most creative and unifying leadership we can possibly find. Open up this process, look at a variety of candidates and make a decision that will unify and inspire our public schools.

Andy Davis Brattleboro, District 3 Town Meeting Representative, Sept. 28


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