New principal named for Molly Stark

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BENNINGTON — Molly Stark Elementary School will have a new principal come July.

The Bennington School District board unanimously approved Donna Bazyk principal at a special board meeting Wednesday.

Jim Culkeen, superintendent of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, nominated Bazyk to the position at the meeting.

The nomination was made soon after the board returned from an about-30-minute executive session.

Bazyk is currently an assistant principal in the Springfield School District in Springfield, and prior to that was a reading specialist in the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union from 2006-18.

She has a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia and a master's degree in education from Castleton University in Castleton. She has 13 years of experience, according to her nomination form.

"I'm encouraged by the experience [Bazyk] has," said Chris Murphy, chairman of the BSD board, after the meeting. "I'm excited by her enthusiasm for serving [Molly Stark] in this way, and I expect that she'll make a great addition to the BSD."

"I am super, super excited," said Bazyk when reached Thursday. "It's going to be a great journey for me, and I'm excited to be part of the community in Bennington, and working with the staff there."

Bazyk lives in Manchester, and is an assistant principal at both Elm Hill School and Union Street School in the Springfield district.

Bazyk said her goal was to be a principal, so when she saw the opportunity to be one, she took that step.

"It's not just being principal," she said. "I want to be a leader . Good leadership is really important at a school."

She said one of her goals is to "connect consistently" with the local community.

Bazyk was one of four candidates who were interviewed by the screening committee, out of 18 applicants.

In the process of appointing administrators in the SVSU, a screening committee recommends at least two qualified candidates to the superintendent.

It is then up to the superintendent to perform additional interviews and to recommend a candidate to the relevant board, said Derek Carson, public information coordinator for the SVSU, in an email.

If the board rejects that candidate, the superintendent has the authority to either present another candidate or re-open the search.

The principal position at Molly Stark has been occupied by the SVSU's Director of Early Childhood Education Kate Abbott and Monument Elementary School Principal Donna Cauley for the 2018-19 school year.

Both also remain in their current positions.

The decision to appoint Abbott and Cauley was announced following an executive session at the Bennington School District board's meeting Aug. 1, 2018, the Banner has reported.

Molly Stark's former principal, Michael Mugits, announced in April 2018 that he would resign, and his resignation went into effect July 31.

Mugits said that health issues had prompted his decision, the Banner previously reported. He had been hired prior to the 2016-17 school year, after former principal Donna Mackenzie-King retired from the position.

In part because Mugits' decision to retire from his position came late in the school year — after the typical hiring period for administrators — no qualified candidates could be found as of the end of last July, Carson said in the email.

The position was reposted in the fall.

Bazyk will start her position July 1, the start of the next fiscal year, Carson said in the email.

At Wednesday's meeting, the BSD board also voted to hold a special meeting of the Bennington School District's voters April 23 at 6 p.m. at the firehouse on River Street to ratify the results of the Bennington School District ballot from earlier this month, as a question was raised about a typographical error at the floor meeting March 4.

The typographical error listed the poll hours as "from 7:00 o'clock in the afternoon to 7:00 o'clock in the evening" rather than the correct, "from 7:00 o'clock in the morning to 7:00 o'clock in the evening," according to information provided by Murphy.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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