GMUSD approves hiring two positions as schools prepared to open

Chester-Andover Elementary School. Photo provided

CHESTER, Vt. – Green Mountain Unified School District held a special meeting via Zoom Wednesday, Sept. 2 to approve two new hires at the two elementary schools less than a week before school was set to begin Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Andrew McPhillips was approved for hire for a 0.8 position for one year as a Cavendish Town Elementary School guidance counselor. The position had been filled but that approved candidate backed out from the position last week.

Current Chester-Andover Elementary School paraeducator Kali Santino was hired for a one-year position as a third grade teacher at CAES.

According to Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Lauren Fierman, an additional third grade teacher is needed since they have a class size of 31 students, a number too large to manage with one teacher due to the social distancing required as part of the Covid-19 health requirements. Despite best efforts, teachers and Principal Katharine Fogg were unable to shift students into other classes to make it work.

Fierman made the point that the current budget has the additional funds needed for the hire. She also said that TRSU finance director Cheryl Hammond confirmed that the costs for this additional teacher position should qualify for Covid-19 reimbursement, since the social distancing guidelines were the reason the extra hire was needed.

Santino, who has worked at CAES for two years, has a bachelor’s degree in early education, and is in the process of getting her teaching license. Board member Jeannie Wade said she wasn’t impressed by the documents that were submitted for the board for her approval and that she wasn’t feeling like Santino “had the experience to take on a class.”

Fierman said that the TRSU “would feel differently if her work record wasn’t with us.” Fogg added that Santino had the support of all the teachers and that she is a “go-getter.”

Board Member Jeff Hance said he had reached out to a few teachers and “got a thumbs up” from everyone he talked to.

After the discussion, the board unanimously approved the hire.

The next regular GMUSD board meeting is schedule Thursday, Sept. 17 via Zoom.

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