BENNINGTON -- The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union has named James R. Culkeen as its interim superintendent.
Culkeen, who is currently the superintendent of the Southwest Vermont Regional Technical School District, which operates the Career Development Center, will replace current Superintendent Catherine McClure when her contract expires on July 1. McClure had originally tendered her resignation, effective in January, but when a first superintendent search failed to produce the required number of candidates, she agreed to remain in the position through the end of her contract.
Culkeen was hired by the SVRTSD board in August of 2011 in a near-unanimous vote, with board member Ricky Harrington casting the lone dissenting vote. The SVSU vote as well was almost unanimous, with only Cynthia Brownell of Pownal abstaining. Culkeen will serve as interim superintendent until a second superintendent search can be completed. That search is not expected to be finalized until next year.
The vote to appoint Culkeen came after several months of executive session meetings by the SVSU board, at least one of which Culkeen was present for a portion of. According to McClure, negotiations regarding the value of Culkeen's contract are still ongoing, and should be finalized by the end of the week.
Previous to working for the SVRTSD, Culkeen was superintendent of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Fitchburg, Massachusetts for eight years. He was first hired to teach, and later became acting principal, and eventually superintendent. Culkeen found himself in the middle of what he described as a "political quagmire" at Monty Tech, in which he placed a newly hired principal on administrative leave. According to a Dec. 3, 2010 in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the principal had been put on leave after trying to mediate a dispute between Culkeen and his daughter, a former student.
Culkeen did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB