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Monadnock school district’s superintendent to resign

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff
Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 12:00 pm

SWANZEY CENTER — As Monadnock Regional School District officials continue to deal with one crisis after another in recent months, its superintendent is calling it a day.

Leo P. Corriveau, 65, has submitted a resignation letter, effective Jan. 2, 2015. Corriveau joined the district in 2012.

The letter will be presented to the school board tonight, school board Chairman Richard H. Thackston 3rd of Troy said today.

Corriveau says he is leaving for family and health reasons; Thackston is blaming the teachers union and a recently formed community group, Monadnock United, for causing Corriveau’s early departure.

“I’m giving you that reason. He didn’t give that reason,” Thackston said.

Corriveau said he made the decision in June that he would leave in January instead of staying through the school year. “It has been a hard assignment,” he said. “We’re making progress and doing the best we can, but it’s difficult.”

The school district is lucky to have Corriveau, who has been willing to make the changes needed to improve the education offered at the district’s schools, and has led one of the best and most effective administrations the district has had, Thackston said.

Over the past two years, the district has cut staff, which school officials have said is necessary.

“The reality is with the 30 percent decline in student enrollment, our school district should be able to attain its educational goals with fewer teachers. That is the way it is. It is an education program that provides jobs, not a jobs program providing education,” Thackston said.

Monadnock United, which began with a Facebook page last year, is a group of more than 100 parents, community members and teachers aiming to bring positive change to the school district.

Thackston says it’s an arm of the teachers union.

The union and school board have been at odds since May over a health insurance funding clause in the teachers contract.

“Monadnock United has gone on a campaign of personally attacking Leo Corriveau in addition to starting rumors. The group had diligently pursued an effort to find anything they could to demean him as an educator or as an administrator,” Thackston said.

The situation has been a strain on Corriveau and his family, Thackston said.

But Michelle M. Colbert, a member of Monadnock United, said she was unaware of any personal attacks and denied the group is affiliated with the teachers union.

“This is news to me,” Colbert said. “I don’t know what (Thackston) keeps talking about.”

Corriveau had initially planned to stay through the 2014-15 school year before retiring, and had signed a one-year contract reflecting that commitment, as well as moving from a full-time schedule to part-time to save the school district some money.

Assistant Superintendent Karen Craig, who is on track to retire at the end of the 2014-15 school year, agreed to a similar work schedule and salary arrangement.

Corriveau said he came to the Monadnock school district to help, and the job has been stressful. Some of that stress has come from strife in the school district, he said. However, he did not blame a specific group or circumstance for his decision to retire earlier than planned.

“I think the district has some major issues it will be facing down the road that I can’t solve. They’re going to be solved over the next decade, and I think a solution is partnering with Keene as much as we can,” he said.

The Keene and Monadnock school districts have hired a consultant to look at ways they can collaborate, reorganize or even consolidate.

As a result of Corrvieau’s resignation, the Monadnock school board will be looking to form a superintendent search committee soon, Thackston said.

In the best-case scenario, there would be a new superintendent in place by the time Corrvieau retires, but school officials will allow time to find the right person, he said.