On February 19, 2020

School board chair resigns

By Curt Peterson

The Feb. 13 emergency meeting of the Windsor Central Modified Unified Union School District Board was followed by the resignation of co-chair Paige Hiller, Woodstock representative, the next morning.

On Friday, Valentine’s Day, Hiller sent an email to board members resigning as co-chair and vacating her seat on the Board “effective immediately.”

On Monday, Feb. 17, Hiller issued a statement to the press citing health issues that she said have burdened her “these past few months.”

“Fifteen years ago, the citizens of Woodstock honored me by electing me to the Woodstock Elementary School Board. Since that time I have served in various capacities, including chair of that board, chair of the Woodstock Middle School and High School, chair of the Windsor Central Supervisory Union and most recently as chair of the WCMUUD board,” Hiller wrote.

Board member Jim Haff of Killington told the Mountain Times, the board met with district Superintendent Mary Beth Banios on Thursday, Feb. 13, to review measures she had been directed to execute to identify savings in the food services budget, eliminate one position in administration, reverse her suggested cuts at Reading, and accept the administration team’s offer to renew their contracts with no salary increase.

The board had already decided to eliminate its own stipend, saving a total of $42,000.

Pressure had been on the board to cut $200,000 from its originally proposed FY2021 budget to adjust for the reduced equalized pupil count designated by the state.

Both Hiller and her co-chair, Jennifer Iannantuoni of Killington, had advised the board in December they were going to step down from their leadership roles as chair and co-chair in March —a year before their terms on the board were set to expire in 2021.

Hiller’s abrupt and unexpected resignation was a surprise.

In an email, Iannantuoni told the Mountain Times, “I am completely supportive of Paige’s need to take time to deal with personal issues. She has worked tirelessly for the students and taxpayers of Woodstock and the district… We will nominate and elect a new chair and vice-chair at our annual meeting in March,” Iannantuoni continued.

Hiller wrote she is “confident that leadership changes can be made efficiently,”  adding, “As a board we must respect the past, but not allow the past to get in the way of moving us forward as a district.”

Responding board members were unanimous that Hiller’s performance throughout her experiences on community education boards has been passionate in support for academic excellence with a careful eye on fiscal responsibility.

Banios, who has been the district superintendent for three years, said in a press statement, “Paige has served our communities with passion, commitment, and a strong student focus for well over a decade. I have valued both the professional and personal relationship we have formed … working together.”

Hiller’s roots are in New Jersey. She earned a Rochester Institute of Technology degree in photography, then moved to New York City.

According to her website, PaigeHillerPhotography.com, “I spent an amazing five years assisting some of the best photographers in the world, and as a result I have a few wild and crazy stories that I would love to share …”

From New York she went to work for the Museum of Modern Art in Boston, then back to New York to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It was a gig at Wild Apple Graphics that brought her to Vermont.

“What an opportunity it was to work with living artists, developing artwork, traveling around the world and coming back to Vermont, my new home, to work and play,” her on-line bio reads.

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