ANeSU teachers: We have no confidence in Adams

LINCOLN — A majority of faculty and staff within the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union on Monday supported a vote of no confidence in Superintendent David Adams, the teachers’ union said.
Hours after making that announcement on Tuesday, the union, the Addison Northeast Education Association, delivered to the ANeSU board the results of a climate survey it conducted, which found that staff disagree with administrators on a number of key issues.
“The vast majority of survey respondents concluded that Adams fails when it comes to vision, interpersonal skills, collaboration, forming partnerships, fostering a safe and effective learning environment and in dealing professionally with school personnel,” ANEDA President and Lincoln Community School teacher Mikaela Frank said Tuesday at the ANeSU board meeting.
Frank also shed light on why the union decided to hold a no-confidence vote, the tally of which was 163 to 1.
“For the past three years, ANEDA and the faculty and staff in the supervisory union have been subjected to a workplace climate that discourages dialogue due to deficiencies in leadership, poor communication, interpersonal skills related to management and professionalism that discourages collaboration,” she read from a prepared statement.
She added that the union believes Adams, who came to Addison Northeast in July 2012, is “no longer the right fit” for the community or its schoolchildren.
The several hundred ANeSU voters at the meeting applauded Frank’s remarks. A Starksboro resident also submitted a petition with more than 500 signatures to the ANeSU board, which asks for the board to fire Adams (see story on Page 1A).
The union said earlier this month, 251 district employees took the survey, which consisted of 19 statements. Respondents were asked to choose from five answers that best described how they felt about each statement; the options were “Agree strongly,” “Agree somewhat,” “Disagree somewhat,” “Disagree strongly” or “No knowledge.”
For each of the statements, at least 72 percent of respondents indicated they disagreed somewhat or disagreed strongly.
Respondents disagreed nearly unanimously for some statements. Ninety-five percent said they disagreed or strongly disagreed that Adams “models respect, understanding, sensitivity and appreciation for all people and balances the rights of multiple and diverse groups.”
Ninety-four percent did not agree that Adams “creates a learning atmosphere to encourage respect for self and others, positive social interaction, positive self and group esteem and personal wellness.” Eighty-eight percent disagreed that Adams and staff have a shared vision for standards-based learning and teaching within the district. (See the full survey posted with this story online at addisonindependent.com.)
Adams was not available for comment after he received results of the survey, but on Tuesday afternoon told the Independent he was disappointed that the teachers’ union went straight to the press with the results of the no-confidence vote instead of first disclosing the vote to administrators.
“Although I have asked on two occasions for climate information survey (sic) from our teachers association, I have not been provided with any information,” Adams said in an email. “In addition, I have not been informed of any faculty vote and am at a loss as to why Vermont NEA would issue a statement about ANeSU employees.”
Adams defended his record as superintendent, and said he has steered the supervisory union toward fiscal responsibility.
“We have moved from a culture of deficit spending to responsible budget planning and oversight,” Adams said.
In an interview Wednesday, Frank declined to detail specific incidents where teachers feel Adams has acted inappropriately, but said there are 17 open teacher grievances across the district.
“We know of teachers who have asked for exit interviews who were not given them; we know of teachers and staff who have left because of the climate and atmosphere,” she said.
Frank said that she thinks it would be difficult for Adams to regain the faith of ANeSU staff, and stood behind the union’s support for his dismissal.
“We hope that the board seriously considers what was presented last night and takes appropriate action,” Frank said.
The no-confidence vote and survey come at a time when the teachers’ union and a committee of school board members are in the process of negotiating a new teacher contract. The teachers’ current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of June.
Frank on Wednesday told the Independent that the timing of the vote and survey had nothing to do with the ongoing contract talks.
“There’s no correlation there,” she said. “The negotiations are happening regardless of whether the survey and vote are taken.”
The next contract negotiation session is scheduled for Thursday. The parties have yet to agree on key issues such as staff raises, health insurance, length of the workday and policies surrounding sick days and leaves of absence. 
Zach Despart is at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @zachdespart

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