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ACSU business manager search continues

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) has hired a consultant to serve as its financial officer in the wake of two recent searches that thus far have failed to yield a new business manager.
Gail Conley, ACSU interim superintendent, confirmed the district has hired former Essex North Superintendent Wayne Murray to serve as the district’s financial officer on a part-time basis while the search for a new business manager continues.
The ACSU is seeking to replace former business manager Sharon Stearns, who resigned in late May after having been placed on administrative leave by former district Superintendent Lee Sease back on Jan. 6. The ACSU board had offered to return Stearns to her job last spring if she agreed to several conditions, including that she use the “services of a coach to assist her in improving managerial skills and interpersonal relationships with all peers and subordinates.”
Stearns, who had served as ACSU business manager for nine years, rejected the board’s conditions for her reinstatement, calling them “onerous, unreasonable, intolerable and unacceptable.”
Stearns, through her attorney, said in June she was considering legal action against the district. A check of Addison County Superior Court records revealed no recent legal filings from Stearns, nor from her former boss, Sease, whose contract was not renewed by the ACSU board this past spring.
The ACSU hired former Chittenden Central Supervisory Union Business Manager Roger Derby to work on the district’s budget matters on an interim basis during Stearns’ absence. Tragically, Derby died suddenly of a heart attack on June 26.
Conley came on as interim superintendent in June (see related story), and one of his first tasks was to organize a search for a new business manager. Conley explained he organized an initial search that produced four candidates that rated interviews.
“We were looking for someone with experience working in a supervisory union,” Conley said. “It is a little complicated when you have eight boards and eight different budgets here in the ACSU. That’s why we were looking for someone with this experience.”
Search committee members found two candidates they believed could do the job very capably, but were unable to reach contract terms with either one. Conley explained one of the candidates ultimately elected against relocating, while the district could not work out financial terms with the other.
The committee reconvened and conducted a second search that produced a handful of additional candidates, according to Conley. But that second search failed to yield folks with prior experience as a public schools business manager.
With that in mind, Sease hired Murray — a retired superintendent and a veteran of the education budgeting process — to fortify the ACSU financial office for three days each week. In the meantime, the search committee will again go through the crop of applications to potentially select a business manager candidate who could work him or herself into the job under Murray’s tutelage.
“He has a wealth of experience that is pertinent to this job,” Conley said of Murray.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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