Members of the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union voted last Wednesday not to renew current Superintendent Karen Gallese's contract past June 2014. Under her year-to-year contract, Gallese was hired to work 135 days a year at $67,500.
According to Gallese, the decision not to renew her contract was made during an executive session.
"The board told me what they'd decided and then the announcement was made to the audience before I could even catch my breath," Gallese said during a phone interview with the Banner Thursday morning. "I was shocked. I didn't see this coming."
Gallese went on to say that she is "still confused" by the board's decision, and cited the reasoning behind it as, "foolish" and "having nothing to do with her job performance."
Gallese was not able to elaborate on any dialogue that transpired during executive session, as it must remain confidential, but she did note that she plans to look into various meeting laws and may request a special hearing in the coming months to "publicly expose what happened."
"I feel that I've made a lot of gains during my time as superintendent," Gallese said. "When I started pushing back and doing my job well, doing what I was supposed to be doing, I think people on the board who think that they can do my job got angry.
BVSU Chairwoman Maureen Harvey said the decision followed a state-level and local vote to not merge the BVSU with any other neighboring supervisory union.
"In the past, we've only been able to hire our superintendents on an interim basis because we really just didn't know what would happen with the merger," Harvey said. "Now that the state has said that we can remain the BVSU, we've decided to search for a superintendent that can really take our supervisory union in a direction that we want to go. Mrs. Gallese just did not fulfill what our expectations were for the position. We're excited to move in a forward direction."
According to Gallese, teachers and staff members of schools within the BVSU have been "supportive," following the board's decision.
It's their support, she said, that is helping her formulate a positive outlook for the future.
"I'm an educator, not a politician and certainly not a quitter. I'll push through until the end of the year, do what I need to do to move the school system forward, and then call it a day and see what's next for me," Gallese said. "At least I found out early enough so that I can plan accordingly. I'm excited about the new opportunities that are in store for me."
Gallese added that she has "no idea" what the BVSU board has planned in terms of hiring a new superintendent, but she expects conversations and plans will emerge within the next few months.
"I feel bad for the children of Arlington," Gallese said. "They're the ones who will be affected by this. I'm really at a loss."
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.