ANwSU beginning search for a new leader

VERGENNES — The Addison Northwest Supervisory Union has begun a formal search for a replacement for longtime superintendent Tom O’Brien; his co-superintendent during this school year, Addison Central School Principal Wayne Howe, has confirmed he is a candidate for the full position.

O’Brien, 65, an Orwell resident, announced in late November 2012 he would step down this June, which will complete his 13th year leading ANwSU and his 30th leading school districts in Washington state, Maine and Vermont.

O’Brien, a former Vermont Superintendent of the Year, has a tenure that has already tripled the Vermont average of less than four years. He said in late 2012 he was already thinking 30 years would be enough before he needed heart surgery in that year — he had five stents installed and is now on a careful health regimen.

Soon after O’Brien made his intentions known, the ANwSU board began negotiating with Howe for sharing the job during the 2013-2014 school year.

Ultimately, O’Brien remained on a 60-percent basis, while Howe assumed 40 percent of the superintendency role and retained the ACS principalship on a 60-percent basis.

Howe last week said in an email he would seek to be the fulltime superintendent, but at the same time acknowledged ANwSU is launching a full search.

“The ANwSU board represents the community and it’s a primary responsibility for them to find someone to lead the SU in the direction they want,” Howe said. “I will apply for the position of superintendent. But whoever is chosen, the board and candidate will be seeking a good match. The match is everything for both sides.”

Howe also said the first six months as the ANwSU assistant superintendent have been a valuable experience.

“My work this year as part-time superintendent has been motivating, as the operational side of education has always been interesting to me. I’ve been involved in a number of SU projects in the past; including the consolidation initiatives and my Snelling Center study about providing indirect services within the SU more efficiently,” he wrote. “This position has given me a chance to get to know the workings of other schools and central office in a much deeper way. No matter what the future holds for me, I’ve enjoyed it.”

ANwSU officials said they began advertising the opening early last month, and formed a search committee from a cross-section of school employees and community members.

The chairman of that committee, Vergennes Union High School board member and Waltham resident Jeffry Glassberg, said the committee hopes to have finalists identified and in for visits and interviews with the full ANwSU board by late February or early March. At this point, officials said the search committee is still developing interview questions.

The other committee members are:

•  VUHS Co-principal Ed Webbley.

•  Teachers Rose Wenzel and Jay Stetzel.

•  Support staff member Loretta Lawrence of Ferrisburgh.

•  ACS board member Alison Martin.

•  Residents Kristina MacKulin and Sue Rakowski.

•  ANwSU business manager Kathy Cannon.

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.


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