St. J Superintendent Resigns Amid School Board Investigation

Ranny BledsoeST. JOHNSBURY - St. Johnsbury Superintendent, Dr. Margaret Ranny Bledsoe, announced at the school board meeting on Monday night that she will be resigning effective July 1, 2019. Bledsoe has been serving as the superintendent for the St. Johnsbury School District since 2012. "This had been my plan all along, and I had informed the board of that fact," said Bledsoe, as she addressed the board.

Moments after Bledsoe finished her statement regarding her resignation, school board member Chris Wenger read a statement from the board regarding an investigation that was prompted by a public letter and petition. The investigation began because of the high turnover rate of staff during Bledsoe's tenure.

The investigation, according to the boards statement, related to 7 or 8 administrators and staff that have left since 2012. The statement by the board also relayed that there were a number of conclusions that were made as a result of the investigation as to certain issues that needed to be addressed. Wenger said that due to statutes and policies surrounding the school board, as well as advice from their legal counsel, did not yet allow them to share specific findings of the investigation. "While we can appreciate some people's desire for us to share the details of each persons reason for leaving, we as a board are not able to do that," said Chris Wenger.

Several members of the public were in attendance and voiced their concerns about a perceived issue with the school boards transparency in relation to its decision making.

One person in attendance was a former employee of the district, who left during the investigation period. She expressed concern that the investigation may not have all of the information that it should, as she and a number of other former employees were not contacted to speak to the school board during the investigation.

Wenger responded to that statement by welcoming anyone who has left to contact the board to set up a meeting to discuss their reasons for leaving.

Other issues that were raised during Monday's meeting were in relation to residency and budgets.

The school board voted for the second time on the residency status of the Coe family. The vote was unanimous against the families claim to residency in the town. Members of the board did express that they understand the difficulty of this process for families, and that the laws surrounding residency are not as straightforward as they would want them to be.

The school board also expressed concerns over the ability to balance their budget due to a constant increase of students to the district. They urged all of the community members in attendance to pass the budget on Town Meeting Day, as they have very few options for changes if the budget were to fail.

The next school board meeting will take place on February 19th and 6 p.m. at the St. Johnsbury School.


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