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Windsor Northwest Picks Boss

Bethel — The Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union has hired a state education official with experience as a school principal as its incoming district superintendent.

Meg Powden will start as superintendent in July, replacing John Poljacik, who is retiring. Poljacik will serve as interim superintendent in the coming months.

Powden, who is currently the school effectiveness coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education, was unanimously selected by the supervisory union board last month . She brings with her 10 years of experience as principal of Danville (Vt.) School where she also worked as a school counselor.

Powden was attracted to the job, she said, because of the district’s K-12 schools and its rural nature, as well as the chance to work on “how we connect our supervisory unions together.”

The district — which includes Bethel, Stockbridge, Rochester, Pittsfield, Hancock and Granville — could be dissolved under a consolidation plan proposed by state administrators due to declining enrollments, and Powden said she is “very interested in doing that transition work.”

“I don’t necessarily support the dissolution of this particular (Supervisory Union), what I support is the consolidation of school districts,” she said. “I think it’s really important for us to look at how we can provide our students with an education of excellence and have our energies go into improving instruction in the classroom and consolidating the leadership across central offices.

“I don’t think we need as many supervisory unions to do this work,” she continued. “We’re a very small state, and I think we can bring our work together to develop efficiencies for our schools.”

Powden will commute from Montpelier, she said.

Despite the possible dissolution of the supervisory union under the consolidation plan, Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union School Board Chairman Carl Groppe said Powden “was interested in the challenge.”

“We’ve been a short­-term SU for a long time,” he said. “Given the situation with the consolidation, her experience and working connection with the (Agency of Education) was the best fit for us going forward.”

Powden was chosen among six finalists for the position by a search committee made up of the supervisory union board, staff and community members. Poljacik, who has been superintendent since 2010, said he is prepared to help Powden into her new role.

“I was not part of the search [committee] whatsoever,” he said. “But I’ll do my best to support her and the district.”

Toni Mears, business manager of the supervisory union, said Poljacik’s time as interim will be a continuation of his contract.

Poljacik called Powden a “worthy candidate” given her current work with the Agency of Education. She will earn $110,000 annually in the role, according to information provided by the superintendent’s office.

Groppe, a Stockbridge resident, also said that Poweden’s appointment could possibly be long-­term since he and vice chairman David Eddy Jr. believe that the consolidation won’t happen anytime soon.

Eddy, of Bethel, agreed. “We’re hoping we gave her a great opportunity. We’re not sure we’re going to dissolve yet. It’s not looking that way. But everything’s up in the air,” he said. “That’s my opinion.”

Valley News Staff Writer Maggie Cassidy contributed to this report.