ACSU retains interim chief another year

MIDDLEBURY — Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) Superintendent Gail Conley, who has been serving on an interim basis since last July 1, has agreed to serve another year in order to give a search committee more time to find his replacement.
An ACSU search committee has thus far initiated two ill-fated searches for a new superintendent. Those searches yielded relatively few applications from what is a shrinking pool nationwide of qualified education administrators. In both cases, the search committee did not feel it could advance a finalist for the job.
Peter Conlon, chairman of the ACSU search committee, said the panel will now reach out to consultants to advise it, among other things, on the timing of a third search and whether the job description should be tweaked.
The ACSU board has agreed to offer a salary range from $112,000 to $117,000 per year and a three-year contract. The position currently pays $110,000, which is the average salary for superintendents in Vermont.
In the meantime, Conley has agreed to stay for as long as the duration of the 2012-2013 academic year, though he wouldn’t mind being released a little earlier.
“My first choice for the 2012-2013 school year was to return to my retirement,” said Conley, a Huntington resident entering his 40th year as a public educator, largely in schools in Illinois and Vermont.
“However, as my second choice, I am excited and happy to accept a second year contract to be the ‘interim’ superintendent for ACSU,” he added, in a written statement about his decision. “I will continue to support the school boards as they search for a permanent superintendent (and send me back to retirement).”
Conley, during a phone interview Thursday, acknowledged his decision was not an easy one.
“I like being retired, and my wife likes me being retired,” Conley said, noting his busy work schedule with the ACSU that averages three evening board meetings per week. The ACSU includes the towns of Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge.
“I like the work — that’s why I’m saying ‘Yes,’” he added.
The terms of Conley’s new contract have yet to be worked out.
Mark Perrin, ACSU board chairman, said he’s very pleased with Conley’s decision.
“Dr. Conley has been very flexible with us,” Perrin said. “He understands what the district needs, as far as a leader and CEO.
“By and large, the board is feeling very positive about the work (Conley) has done.”
He credited Conley with being a proactive leader — who will soon assist in selecting a new associate superintendent to replace Jan Willey, who is stepping down in June. Conley said a screening committee has identified three finalists for the job from an applicant list of 19. The finalists hail from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Texas. He expects to announce a hiring within a week.
“We are going full steam ahead,” Conley said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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