Principal steps down at OVUHS

BRANDON — He said he never thought he’d be a school superintendent, but Otter Valley Union High School Principal Dana Cole-Levesque has accepted an offer from the Rutland South Supervisory Union (RSSU) to take over the helm later this year.
Cole-Levesque, 59, announced his resignation from OV effective in June at the school finance committee meeting last week.
“I’m very fortunate,” he said in an interview Monday. “It certainly is going to be a change, but it is a similarly sized supervisory union.”
RSSU, with offices in North Clarendon, is comprised of four-schools: Mill River Union High School, Clarendon Elementary School, Shrewsbury Mountain School and Wallingford Elementary School. Cole-Levesque said there are roughly 1,200 students in both the RSSU and Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union.
The news comes as OV faces another tough budgetary year and likely will make cuts in staff to keep pace with a shrinking enrollment. Cole-Levesque’s resignation comes as part of a list of spending cuts. The principal’s salary of roughly $101,000 will be used to reinstate workdays and give pay raises to the school’s two remaining associate principals, Jim Avery and Nancy Robinson. Avery will become the high school principal and Robinson the middle school principal.
The OVUHS school board is also considering hiring a dean of students to oversee the entire union school operation, a position that then would be part of a new administrative system including Avery, Robinson, a director of guidance and a coordinator of special education. No decision has been made on whether to hire a dean at $75,682 a year and what that job will entail. Cole-Levesque said he will help the board decide on the best administrative configuration for OV next year and work on the budget.
While Cole-Levesque said he had posted a resume on the education jobs Web site School Spring.com, the RSSU job kind of fell into his lap.
“I had my name in School Spring because it’s a prudent thing to do for any administrator,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of superintendents over the years, but I never thought I’d become one. It was a fortunate confluence of events.”
According to minutes of a Nov. 16 RSSU meeting, there were initially 24 applicants for the job through the School Spring Web site. The board whittled the file down to three by early December, then down to one. Cole-Levesque was required to make a presentation to the RSSU board of his ideas for the 21st century transformation of education in Vermont based on a report by the Vermont State Board of Education and endorsed by state Commissioner of Education Armando Vilaseca.
Cole-Levesque also revealed that he had considered the RNeSU superintendent position after longtime administrator Bill Mathis announced he would retire a year ago.
“I decided not to pursue it after we got some good candidates,” he said.
The principal said OV will be in good hands with Avery and Robinson.
“They have dedicated their professional lives to this school,” he said. “They are capable administrators. They have vision. They are actively involved in creating a new action plan for the school. They know what the strengths are of this school and how to capitalize on them.”
Cole-Levesque also had high praise for the OV community and the school board.
“It’s been a real pleasure to work with this community and this board,” he said earnestly. “This board has been phenomenal and I really appreciate the work they do.”
The RSSU board will vote to ratify the job offer to Cole-Levesque at a Jan. 18 meeting.

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