OSSU Begins Search for New Supt., Principal

Front Page / Jun. 15, 2017 8:41am EDT

By Sandy Vondrasek

Searches for a superintendent and an elementary principal are underway in the Orange Southwest Supervisory Union.

School officials said this week that both searches will include opportunities for students, community members, and employees of the district to meet with finalist candidates.

The administrative turnover is not the only major change in store for OSSU, which will officially become a unified district—Orange Southwest School District—on July 1.

Voters in Braintree, Brookfield, and Randolph approved the merger last March, and at the same time elected an eight-member board to run the unified district. The new board has been meeting regularly since then.

Supt. Brent Kay announced to the board on May 8 that he would end his 15-year service to the district by summer’s end.

Susan McKelvie, a member of the three-person administrative team that oversees elementary schools in the three towns, announced her resignation in late May.

Brooke Dingledine, a member of the board and of the superintendent search committee, said around 15 applications for Kay’s position were received by the June 9 deadline.

The search committee met this week to review the applications, and to conduct reference checks. On June 19, Dingledine said, the committee will reconvene to select several finalists to interview. The names of those candidates will likely be announced sometime next week, she said.

Four OSSD board members, two principals, one central office employee, and two teachers serve on the search committee.

Interviews with the board, as well as a chance for community members, students, and employees to meet the candidates, will be Monday, June 26, and possibly Tuesday, June 27, depending on the number of finalists.

Dingledine said the schedule is for finalists to tour the schools, with administrative and student guides, and then to rotate through a series of meetings—one with community and parents, another with staff and teachers, and possibly a third with students. Each group will meet with individual candidates in a series of sessions.

Attendees will be asked to provide feedback on candidates’ strengths and weaknesses . The feedback will be used by the committee when it meets to make its final recommendation, Dingledine said.

The last stop for the candidates will be interviews with the board, starting at 7 p.m.

“We want to get the most highly qualified person for this job to continue the progress accomplished in the district under Brent’s leadership,” she said.

Brookfield Principal

McKelvie submitted her resignation near the end of May, Supt. Kay said this week.

Hired as a principal for Brookfield in 2012, McKelvie has been commuting from her home in Proctor since then, and has “decided to pursue new options,” Kay said this week.

The district shifted to an administrative team concept in 2013, at which time it downsized from four elementary principals to three. McKelvie has been the anchor administrator for Brookfield and Braintree, among other duties.

This year, there have been some contentious issues in Brookfield, including concern among some community members about the departure, mid-year, of classroom teacher Peter Flaherty. McKelvie submitted her resignation not long after a facilitated forum on May 20 about the future of the school as the district consolidates.

According the Kay, the team model— Erica McLaughlin and Pat Miller are the other two principals—will continue. Ads were placed seeking a replacement for McKelvie and so far about 10 applications have been received, he said.

Those applications are being reviewed by a committee composed of administrators, three teachers, and two board members.

As with the superintendent search, finalists will be presented to community and faculty groups, and their feedback will be solicited. Kay, as required by law, will recommend a candidate to the board.

The plan is to have the new administrator in place by the beginning of the new school year, Kay said.

He added that the second of two facilitated community forums in Brookfield, originally set for this Saturday, will be rescheduled so that the new principal can attend.

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