BY ANGELO LYNN
BRANDON — Following the recent announcement by RNESU Superintendent Jeanne Collins that she would step down at the end of the current school year in June 2022, the RNESU school board has formed a search committee and are already “well underway,” according to board chair Laurie Bertrand.
At their first meeting on Dec. 13, the committee hired a search consultant through the Vermont School Board’s Association, Elaine Pinckney, with the goal of finding a candidate before Town Meeting, Bertrand said.
“Based on the high caliber of leaders we’ve had in the past, we’re looking for a new leader to follow in their footsteps and, perhaps most importantly, be an innovative leader. We’re looking for someone who is forward looking to take these schools into the future in the bold ways that we need to be proceeding, and also be able to make good, quick decisions to handle the crises of the day — like Jeanne has with this pandemic, and as she did in meeting the consolidation and merger challenges under Act 46.”
“Because Jeanne has built up such a good team around her, we’re in really good shape and should be a very desirable school district to manage,” Bertrand said.
She also noted that the search committee and the district board wanted to involve district residents in the search process as much as possible. To that end, Bertrand said the committee would be putting out “thought exchanges” on the school district’s website to allow residents to reach out to the committee with thoughts, recommendations or questions; and would host a PEG TV broadcast in which the search process will be discussed between Bertrand and Pinckney.
A special page on the district’s website will be devoted to the search for a new superintendent with ways the community can be involved. A meet and greet with the finalists will hopefully be set in February, Bertrand said.
Members on the search committee are: Lead group with voting power: RNESU board members, comprised of Laurie Bertrand, Becky Bertrand, Barbara Ebling, Brenda Hummel, Jacob Powsner, and Jessica Quesnel.
The extended team taps the Central Office personnel and includes: Brenda Fleming, director of business and finance; Melinda Piper, executive secretary to the superintendent; Kristin Hubert, director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; Marsha Bruce, director of special services; and Alexis Blake, director of technology. Also, Lathrop Principal Debbie Alexander and one teacher from Barstow.
When asked what other qualities they are looking for in a superintendent, Bertrand was quick to add “being a good communicator with district residents. Jeanne has done an excellent job keeping district parents and residents informed about what’s going on and explaining the reasons behind our actions. Making sure parents have the information they need is key, and we want that to continue,” she said. And, of course, she added, “making sure the district runs effectively and efficiency and being able to pivot with things like the pandemic.”
A virtual public forum on the search process, which is also a forum seeking public input on what traits residents most want to see in the candidates, will be held on January 6 from 6-7 p.m. A committee meeting will follow. More information can be found about the search committee process by going to https://tinyurl.com/2p8jukch.