Cortvriend new leader of Portsmouth school board

Terri Cortvriend has been selected to lead the Portsmouth School Committee. Terri Cortvriend has been selected to lead the Portsmouth School Committee.

PORTSMOUTH — “We’re going to have some moving of the chairs,” announced School Committee Chairman David Croston at the start of Tuesday night’s meeting.

And with that, the wheels were in motion for the panel to select a new leader to succeed Mr. Croston, who last month announced his intention to resign as chairman on July 22.

Vice Chairwoman Terri Cortvriend was selected to be the committee leader in a 4-3 vote. Voting in favor were Mr. Croston and Ms. Cortvriend as well as committee members Andrew Kelly, who had nominated Ms. Cortvriend, and Thomas Vadney.

Voting against the motion were committee members Emily Copeland, John Wojichowski and Frederick Faerber, the latter of whom has publicly criticized Mr. Croston in recent weeks.

Before Ms. Cortvriend was voted in, Mr. Faerber had nominated Ms. Copeland to be chairwoman, saying she’s been an integral part of the district’s strategic planning and strongly involved with the schools’ PTOs. Ms. Copeland, he added, was also one of the biggest vote-getters in the town’s last election, receiving more than 6,000 votes.

Emily Copeland, new vice chairwoman of the Portsmouth School Committee.

Emily Copeland, new vice chairwoman of the Portsmouth School Committee.

Ms. Copeland, however, received only three votes — from the same members who later voted against Ms. Cortvriend. In a unanimous vote, Ms. Copeland was selected as vice chairwoman to replace Ms. Cortvriend.

The committee will vote again on who will lead the panel following the November general election.

Before he passed the gavel, Mr. Croston said it had been an honor to serve the committee as chairman.

“It’s so critical that we do the business of the community and I’m stepping down to make sure that is in fact what will happen. I’m very proud of what the committee has done,” he said.

Mr. Croston noted that “in two short years” the committee has “realigned” the school administration, approved the district’s first full-day kindergarten program, made a number of capital improvements and fire code upgrades, initiated the “T3” athletic field improvements and brought a “great director of finance and a great superintendent” on board.

Controversy not discussed

Mr. Croston made no mention of the criticism he’s faced from Mr. Faerber, who has publicly denounced the former chairman, accusing him of overstepping his authority and meddling in the affairs of school administrators. Mr. Croston, who is running for reelection as is Mr. Faerber, has denied the charges.

Mr. Croston has previously said his decision to step down as chairman was based on his wish for the new school administration to form its own leadership style and to allow himself more time on the “T3” project and to develop revenue programs for the district. He has denied being forced into resigning his chair, a claim Mr. Faerber believes is disingenuous.

After the new chairwoman and vice chairwoman were voted in, Mr. Croston got up to take his new seat — right next to Mr. Faerber.

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