SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Superintendent Zach McLaughlin announced yesterday that the Springfield School Board selected Laura Ryan, a former board member who last served in 2018, to fill the board seat left vacant last month by the resignation of former chair Ed Caron.
The board made the decision by a unanimous vote at a special meeting on Tuesday, July 2, McLaughlin stated in a press release.
Ryan will serve out the term, which is set to end in March 2020.
“Laura brings a wealth of experience,” said board member Jeanice Garfield. “It puts us in a position to have an experienced former board member to cover this period.”
After Caron announced his resignation on June 7, the board initially decided upon a two-tiered process to find a replacement. They reviewed letters of interest that interested residents submitted and intended to select one or more candidates to invite for an interview. But after reviewing the candidate letters, the board decided to forgo interviews and vote to appoint Ryan.
“We were faced with many qualified applicants,” Chair Mike Griffin said. “We decided it would be in the best interest of the district if we went with Laura for the short term.”
Vice-chair Troy Palmer agreed, saying that Ryan’s past experience on the board showed her favorability among Springfield voters.
“This is someone who has been repeatedly elected to this role by the community,” Palmer said.
Ryan’s experience and familiarity with the role and responsibilities factored heavily into the board’s decision to forgo the interview process, according to Griffin. Ryan has nine years of service on the Springfield school board, including six years of recent service from 2012 to 2018. She also currently serves as the deputy director of the Springfield Housing Authority.
Griffin recommended that individuals still interested in board service use this time to attend school board meetings and budget discussions, to give them vital background knowledge about the position when the public chooses a permanent candidate for the seat in March 2020.
Understanding the time commitment and responsibility is important for school board candidates to consider, according to Caron, who resigned from the seat due to personal, family, and health concerns.
Caron said in an interview last month that he estimated spending about 15 hours per week on the volunteer work for the board. In addition to board meetings, members also serve on volunteer committees. The budget season also requires additional meetings with staff and administrators in order to reach a budget agreement that satisfies the overall community.
“It requires a lot of commitment,” Caron said.
Ryan’s seat will be the only one open next year. Two seats will be open in March 2021 when the terms of Palmer and board clerk Steve Karaffa expire.
Ryan thanked the board afterward when notified of the appointment.
“I look forward to helping the district move forward in a manner that is both fiscally sound and supports success for all students,” Ryan said. “I plan to work cooperatively with the board and administration to ensure that Springfield Schools continue to improve and contribute to the revitalization of our community.”