The Lamoille South school district is taking a temporary back seat as the organization leading the search for a new superintendent and a new Stowe High School principal queries the communities for their input.

The schoolboard also doesn’t want comments about the current superintendent to mar the search process.

The New England School Development Council is leading the search for both positions. Schoolboard chair David Bickford said that will remain the case until the consultants suggest potential candidates to the board.

“What they want is an authentic reading from students, parents and members of the community, without a sort of imprint or presence of board members,” Bickford said during the Feb. 2 schoolboard meeting.

According to the job postings, the consultants will start reviewing resumes for the principal position starting March 8; the deadline for superintendent applicants is March 26.

The consultants this week hosted a series of community “focus groups” for the principal search, two on Wednesday and two today, Thursday. To register for today’s focus groups, visit surveymonkey.com/r/CL6TVKG for the 12:30-1:30 p.m. session, or surveymonkey.com/r/CVFLPHB for the 3-4 p.m. session.

A survey will remain online until Feb. 28. It can be accessed at surveymonkey.com/r/V75B9WW.

Stowe resident Emily Rosenbaum, during last week’s meeting, aired her concerns about the agreement reached between the school district and superintendent Tracy Wrend that Wrend will resign by the end of the school year, June 30, a year before her contract was set to expire.

Rosenbaum was particularly concerned with a clause in the agreement that would penalize any board member who, until June 30, 2023, publicly disparaged Wrend, punishable by a fine of $10,000 per infraction. That money would not come out of the offender’s pocket, but from the school district’s coffers.

“Given the history of this community and the frequency with which people on this board and members of this community have said negative things about the superintendent, (and) the fact that some of the seats are going to turn over and community members who were not part of that agreement are going to come on, as a taxpayer, I want to know what my protection is against people saying things since I’m going to have to pay the bill,” Rosenbaum said. “I’ve seen so many egregiously negative things said about the superintendent over the years, many of which, frankly, had they been said about me, were so false I would have sued.”

Schoolboard chair David Bickford said the public’s protection from having to pay the bill for any negative things said about the superintendent “is probably limited to the good offices and the good intents of the board members.”

He said it especially behooves them to act nice during the superintendent and principal searches because public remarks have a tendency to make it into the public record.

“And anybody who is searching for a job is not likely to be interested in a community where members of the public and members of the board are making remarks that are critical, that are uncomplimentary to the individual, because it creates a reflection back on the district,” Bickford said. “I think the board members are very aware that we face this difficult task of recruiting, attracting and hiring a competent, qualified superintendent. So, I think those are, in and of themselves, safeguards.”

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