AUBURN — School Committee members disagree about when and how they should go about deciding whether to renew the superintendent’s contract.

Katy Grondin’s three-year pact, which will pay her $132,000 next year, expires in June.

Auburn School Superintendent Katy Grondin Sun Journal file photo

Board members are beginning a process to evaluate her performance and decide whether they want to leave her in charge of the schools she’s overseen since 2011.

Not everyone, though, is happy with the process or timing of the decision-making.

“It is troubling to me because it seems they are trying to shove this through very fast,” said Alfreda Fournier, the mayor’s representative on the committee.

Committee Chairman Thomas Kendall said during the panel’s last meeting that he is following policies and procedures with the intention of reporting to the state by the end of December who Auburn’s superintendent will be next year.

Fournier, though, said she is shocked by the lack of information and disinclination by her board colleagues to treat the evaluation seriously and with “more dignity.”

Grondin allies on the panel “seem in a hurry to want to get this done” before anyone elected in November takes office, Robert Mennealy, a member of the eight-person board, said Tuesday.

“I don’t think things are as rosy in the School Department as the old guard thinks they are,” Meannealy said.

Faith Fontaine, another board member, said at the last board meeting that leaving the decision to those elected in November “doesn’t make sense” because they would not have had a chance to work with Grondin or to see how she does her job.

The idea is “very unprofessional,” Fontaine said. “It’s not the best thing for our students.”

State law requires that school boards meet no later than Dec. 31 of the year preceding the expiration of the superintendent’s contract to elect someone for the position by majority vote. The law requires contracts extend for no more than five years and for terms of office to end June 30 of the specified final year of the pact.

“The motion to elect the superintendent and set the superintendent’s salary should specify the time frame within which the offer must be accepted by the superintendent or candidate,” according to the Maine Department of Education. If it’s not accepted, it means “a vacancy will occur at the expiration of the current contract agreement.”

Each of Grondin’s previous contract renewals were made public in December.

Kendall kicked off the evaluation process by sending committee members some paperwork in mid-August that encouraged them to write down five strengths and five weaknesses they perceive in Grondin’s leadership. They are supposed to be done by Sept. 6.

At that point, the School Committee would meet in executive session, officials said, and review Grondin before deciding whether to offer her a new contract and determine how much to pay her.

Fournier said she would like to see more discussion among the board earlier in the process and more time to make a decision since June remains many months away.

“So far, this has not been a collective activity,” Fournier told Kendall at the end of last week’s School Committee meeting. “It’s basically coming from you as the chair.”

“It would have been nice to sit down and discuss process instead of getting a written directive,” Mennealy said.

“We are doing what we’ve done in the past,” Kendall said. “We are following the process.”

“We have to have a decision” by year’s end, he said. “We’re right on time.”

Fournier, who had a 37-year career in education, said there is plenty of time to do it right, as she outlined in a one-page summary of her position that she handed out to board members.

“I feel like a lone wolf crying in the wilderness,” she said. “I know how it should go.”

Grondin graduated from Edward Little High School in 1982 and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern Maine. She also holds a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership from the University of Maine.

Before being named superintendent, she worked as Auburn’s assistant superintendent and served as principal of Sherwood Heights Elementary School. She started working in the Auburn School Department as a second-grade teacher.


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