ACSU reboots search for new superintendent

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central Supervisory union board will re-advertise the school district’s superintendent vacancy in wake of an initial search that concluded on Thursday without producing an acceptable candidate.
Gail Conley, the ACSU’s interim superintendent, said the position will now be re-advertised in conjunction with the soon-to-be-vacant associate superintendent position. Associate Superintendent Jan Willey has tendered her resignation effective at the end of the school year.
Peter Conlon, chairman of the ACSU Superintendent Screening Committee, explained that his panel had planned on interviewing two finalists who had emerged from a list of nine hopefuls who had applied for the job, advertised on the SchoolSpring.com education jobs website.
But one of those finalists dropped out before the interview process. The second candidate, according to committee members, was interviewed on Thursday and proved “not a strong enough fit for the ACSU,” according to a statement issued from the ACSU central office.
Officials remain optimistic their dual search for a superintendent and an associate superintendent will yield some good candidates to ensure both positions will be filled by summer. But Conlon acknowledged that there is a shrinking pool of applicants out there for a job that requires a lot of networking with a lot of school boards — nine, to be precise. The ACSU includes the towns of Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Shoreham, Salisbury and Weybridge. The superintendent must network with elementary school boards in those towns, along with the UD-3 (Middlebury Union high and middle schools) and ACSU boards.
Conlon said the multiplicity of boards “presents certain difficulties in trying to find good superintendent candidates.”
Speaking as an individual board member, he said he believes that “until we change the governance structure (in the ACSU), this will add additional challenges in finding the best candidates for school leadership positions.”
The ACSU currently has an ad hoc committee looking into the possible consolidation of school boards and school resources.
Mark Perrin, ACSU board chairman, said his panel will next meet on Feb. 29 to get an update on the rebooted search and the extent to which education consultant Bob Stevens will continue to play a role in the process.
Conley was disappointed the initial search did not yield a finalist. He said that “in today’s job market, that’s not unusual,” explaining that there just isn’t a huge pool of qualified candidates.
Asked if he would entertain a second year as interim leader if asked, Conley replied, “I am enjoying this year and there are a lot of important things to get done. At this point, I am not considering doing a second year. I really enjoyed being retired.”
At this point, Conley is banking on the second search yielding an acceptable candidate. If that second search were to fizzle, Conley does not anticipate the board would need to ask him to serve a second year until April or May.
The board has approved an annual salary range of $112,000 to $117,000 for the superintendent job, which carries a three-year contract. The successful candidate will succeed former ACSU Superintendent Lee Sease, whose contract was not extended after June 30, 2011.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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