By Curt Peterson
Following executive session Monday evening, April 6, the Windsor Central Unified School District Board voted 16-0 authorizing Chair Bryce Sammel (Barnard) to negotiate with Sherry Sousa for the position of interim district supervisor.
Sousa would replace Mary Beth Banios, who has been supervisor for the past three years and who oversaw the district’s seven towns form the consolidated district in 2018. Banios has accepted a position as supervisor in the Hamilton-Wenham School District in Massachusetts effective July 1, 2020, but will serve out her contract here until June 30.
Board member Jim Haff (Killington) told the Mountain Times most school districts start their superintendent searches in the fall and make their decisions in the spring. Given the current timeline, a quick decision was thought a wise move, and the Board is familiar with Sousa, who has served as director of instructional support services under Banios.
“Otherwise, we would probably make our decision in August, and the school year would be starting the next month,” Haff said. “And who would we get?”
According to Haff, who is also a Killington Select Board member, “When I’ve been involved on board
before, whoever is in the interim position becomes the permanent jobholder.”
“I am so pleased with the Board’s appointment of Sherry Sousa as the interim superintendent for next year,” wrote Banios in an email Tuesday, April 7. “Sherry exemplifies collaborative leadership, has a deep understanding of our district and our communities, and has a high level of integrity in all of her interactions. The Windsor Central Schools will be well served by this decision. Sherry and I will begin working closely together to ensure a smooth transition in Central Office leadership,” Banios continued.
The meeting, attended by more than 30 participants including 16 Board members, was conducted smoothly and remotely via the Zoom digital platform.
At the meeting Bill Overbay was also newly appointed to the Board by the Pomfret Select Board to replace Patti Kuzmickas, who resigned following the reorganization meeting in March.
Senior Sam Powers said his schoolmates are working hard to adjust to remote learning, when he gave the Student Report, a regular Board Meeting feature.
“One benefit of e-learning,” Powers said, “is there is now time to workout and get some exercise.”
But it’s tricky, he added. Students are experiencing anxiety — it’s the first time they’ve had to deal with independent scheduling and self-time management.
“It’s a little stressful,” he said. Adding that students are very aware how hard the transition to e-teaching is as well.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it’s been for [teachers],” he said.
Studies indicate adolescents need more sleep and have different circadian rhythms than adults. Powers suggested a later starting time to enhance alertness and energy levels among students.
Renaming the schools?
In her Supervisor’s Report, Banios cited the district’s Strategic Plan, which suggests the Board determine a new name for the district for “branding” purposes. In other words, a more easily-marketed moniker. Strategy 9.1 calls for a “shared identity, enhancing district pride, and designing and dispersing promotional materials highlighting district programs and outcomes”.
Creating a shared identity, Banios said, the individual campuses would be renamed with the new district brand.
The campuses will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Board meetings will be held via Zoom on May 11, and June 8. All committees meetings will be held at the Teagle Library in the Middle School, possibly dispersed to additional locations at the facility to enable social distancing, on April 20 and May 26.
The district is expecting to be back in full swing for the entire 2020-2021 school year and has approved monthly board meetings and committee meeting dates on the non-School Board meeting Mondays. Dates will be posted on the WCUSD website.