New WSESU leadership offers great opportunity for change

BRATTLEBORO — A great opportunity sits before the community of Brattleboro and its surrounding towns. The superintendent of our public schools is retiring, and now we get to pick someone new to lead the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union.

Thank you to Ron Stahley for the steadfast quality of his work over the last 14 years. He did an excellent job, but I am not sorry to see him leave. Any strong leader knows that there is a cycle to leadership and a time to move on in order to open up the space for new energy.

We get to hire a new person who will bring fresh perspectives and new vision for the children, teachers, parents, friends, families, and the citizens who pay taxes for this critical public service - our schools.

The superintendent's position is an important job and requires an important search process because the quality of our schools affects all of us and the superintendent serves as the leader to this whole system.

I'll be very disappointed if the selection committee chooses to hire someone who is already working in this district.

New leadership that starts with fresh relationships has great advantage and excellent leverage for change. Imagine a talented young leader from Seattle, Eugene, Chicago, Santa Fe, Atlanta, or even a small town closer to the size of Brattleboro.

Imagine that that this person has excellent references and proven experience in a school system incorporating novel and successful programming. Imagine that this person wants to live in Vermont and commit herself to positive outcomes for every student.

Wouldn't we want to meet this person? I'm sure there are many, many highly qualified individuals who would apply for this position from around the country.

It has come to my attention that there are staff members who have been working closely with Ron Stahley for many years who might want to be considered. Should these individuals aspire to lead a school district, they did not need to wait for his retirement. Such jobs exist throughout Vermont and across the country and they could have applied for these positions. The vitality of our public schools will be much greater if we foster the exchange of ideas and approaches that an outsider would bring to our community.

And one last thing about the transparency of this selection process: No one will gain the trust and support of the children, teachers, parents, friends and families, and the citizens of this community if the next superintendent is selected through a confidential and secretive process.

I call on the school board to create a process worthy of this role, to make the search process public - and to vet the final candidate(s) at an open, public forum.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates