ACSU to focus on hiring an interim superintendent

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) executive committee will focus on hiring an interim superintendent rather than launch an immediate search for a full-time replacement for current superintendent Lee Sease.
That was the word on Monday from ACSU board chairwoman Carol Ford, who explained the hiring of an interim administrator will give school directors more time to map out the qualities they would like to see in the new superintendent.
The interim superintendent will probably be asked to work for the entire 2011-2012 school year, Ford said. In the meantime, the ACSU board would conduct a deliberate search for a new administrative leader for Middlebury Union Middle School, Middlebury Union High School and the elementary schools in Bridport, Cornwall, Salisbury, Middlebury, Shoreham, Weybridge and Ripton.
Sease’s contract expires on June 30. The ACSU board on Feb. 9 voted, 22-2, against renewing or extending Sease’s contract. It was a vote ACSU directors took after a lengthy closed-door meeting and one that affirmed a decision the board made in April 2010.
Board members, citing personnel matters, haven’t publicly stated their reason for not extending Sease’s seven-year tenure with the district — though the ACSU office has come under recent scrutiny for discord among top administrators.
The fate of two additional ACSU administrators had yet to be decided as the Addison Independent went to press.
Jan Willey, ACSU associate superintendent, is awaiting action on her contract status. Willey announced plans in December 2009 to resign from her post, then citing concerns about what she said was a recent shift in her job description made without her input.
The ACSU board at the time chose not to take action on Willey’s letter of resignation and instead commissioned a consultant to study of the working climate in the district office. The board also brought in a mediator in an effort to reduce conflict.
Willey said earlier this month she hopes to remain with ACSU at least through the transition process.
Like Sease, Willey’s contract expires on June 30. Ford said she expects the ACSU board to have made a decision about Willey’s contract by its annual meeting, slated for April 27.
The ACSU board must also determine what to do about the district’s position of business manager. Sharon Stearns, who now serves in that capacity, has been on paid administrative leave for the past few months — a period that has unfortunately coincided with 2011-2012 budget planning for all the ACSU’s school budgets.
Again, citing a personnel matter, ACSU officials have declined to state publicly why Stearns has been on leave. In her absence, the ACSU has relied on existing staff and contracted with a part-time, retired school business manager to fill in on budgeting tasks, according to Ford.
Ford said the ACSU executive board will work with the Vermont School Boards Association to generate a list of potential interim superintendents. Those candidates, Ford said, are typically retired school administrators willing to take on a superintendency on a short-term basis.
John Flowers is at [email protected].

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