TRSU central office lays off two long-time assistants

Two Rivers Supervisory Union. Photo provided.

LUDLOW, Vt. – Two administrative assistants in Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Meg Powden’s office have been laid off. Administrative Assistant Deborah Carleton and Superintendent Office Operations Assistant Julie Barr were both informed last week that they were being terminated, effective May 11, 2018. Carleton has been with the SU for almost 8 years and Barr for 11 years.

“The news came as a complete shock,” said Carleton. “I was saddened and disappointed with the decision especially since I had a great working relationship with the 42 board members and my co-workers.”

Superintendent Meg Powden told Carleton that she was “not what she needed.” According to Carleton, Powden is planning to hire an executive assistant to replace the two superintendent assistants.

It is unclear whether the addition of the executive assistant position will result in an overall reduction to the SU Superintendent’s office budget.

The TRSU central office had to go back and retool their budget after it was voted down by a wide margin at the last Board Meeting on Feb. 1, however Carleton’s expectation was that any staffing reductions would take place within the finance department since they had purchased an expensive software “Infinite Visions,” which “was bought because it streamlined many of the finance functions.”

During executive committee and other board meetings surrounding the purchase of the software, Director of Finance Chris Adams talked of Finance Office efficiencies that might be realized. In a meeting in Nov. 6, 2014, in discussing the upcoming software recommendation, Adams stated, “While the software is not cheap, it should allow the business office to realize some efficiencies,” including eliminating the need for timesheets. He went on to add, “They might realize some savings with a reduction in a bookkeeper position.”

Tyler Technology’s Infinite Visions software was approved for purchase at a cost of $85,927, using a 5-year lease option, by the executive committee in April of 2015. The software is used in the majority of school districts in the state.

Once the Infinite Visions software was in place, however, it seemed that those efficiencies might not be realized. During a full board meeting in November 2016, board member, Dave Venter questioned why the bookkeeping and accounting expenses were up when the software they purchased was supposed to make the work more efficient. Adams reported during that meeting that the new software has given the office greater internal controls, but they still have 11 entities to track.

To further complicate matters in the midst of the budget rework, Director of Finance Christopher Adams is currently out on an indefinite leave of absence. His duties are currently being covered by business office accounting bookkeeper, Cheryl Hammond.

The revised TRSU central office budget will go in front of the Full Board again in hopes of winning approval on Thursday, Feb. 15 at Cavendish Town Elementary School at 6 p.m.

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