OSSU Elementary Schools Move to Shared Administration Model

Change Is Reaction To Lower Enrollments

By Sandy Vondrasek, courtesy of The Herald, June 26, 2014

Starting July 1, the three elementary schools in the Orange Southwest Supervisory Union will be administered by a team of three principals— Erica McLaughlin and Pat Miller, who have been co-principals at Randolph Elementary, and Susan McKelvie, who served this year as Brookfield’s principal.

The change, three years in the planning, comes as Braintree’s longtime principal, Nancy Frenette retires.

OSSU Supt. Brent Kay said shifting to “a shared administrative model” and “downsizing” the number of principals is a response to overall lower student numbers in the district.

This past school year, he noted, the district had four elementary principals and about 480 elementary students in its three schools.

Randolph Union High School, grades 7-12, has about the same number of students but only two principals, Kay noted.

“With declining enrollments, we are trying to do things more efficiently,” he said. “There is no way in good conscience I could recommend that level of administration at the expense of education and the staff that is central to kids.

“Administrators are important,” but when it comes to providing quality education to the kids, he said, “teachers are more important.”

Kay said that the three principals will operate as a team, but that there will be “a point person” at each school. At Brookfield and Braintree, the primary administrator will be McKelvie.

“Susan has a real passion for small schools, and she understands them well,” Kay said.

McLaughlin will have primary responsibility for Randolph Elementary.

Miller will continue to focus on a project that has occupied much of her time this year—starting a pilot preschool program for a maximum of 30 students at Randolph Elementary this fall.

OSSU is gearing up to be in compliance with a new state law that requires every school district in Vermont to provide 10 hours of high quality, free pre-kindergarten each week as of the fall of 2015. Programs will be available to all 3- and 4-yearolds whose families choose to enroll them.

Principals, Principles

At OSSU’s elementary schools, all three women will collaborate on many duties, including staff evaluations, and each will have areas of expertise in which they will take the lead.

Kay pointed out Randolph has already experienced the kind of “shared administration” that is planned for the three towns next year.

Before the new Randolph Elementary School was built, he noted, Co- Principals Steve Metcalf and Shirley Stewart jointly administered the town’s Randolph Village, East Randolph, and Randolph Center schools.

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