Board bids farewell to departing directors, superintendent
Searsport — The RSU 20 Board of Directors kicked off its Tuesday, June 26, meeting with words of thanks for three departing board members, as well as retiring Superintendent Bruce Mailloux.
Board Vice Chairman Debora Riley presented plaques of recognition to directors Twyler Webster of Frankfort, Christopher Krause of Stockton Springs and Board Chairman Jean Dube of Morrill, and also presented Mailloux with a parting gift from the board.
"Enjoy your time," said Riley to each of the individuals who were ending their service to the district this week.
When presenting the gifts, Riley noted how long each person had served. Webster, said Riley, sat on the former SAD 56 board from 2005 through 2008, and served on the RSU 20 board from 2010 to 2012. Dube was an SAD 34 and RSU 20 director from 2006 to 2012, Riley said, serving as the chairman for much of that time. Krause had given his continuous service to both the former SAD 56 board and the RSU 20 board for a total of 17 years, beginning with his election to the SAD 56 board in 1995.
Then Riley called Mailloux to the front of the room to present a card and gift from the directors.
Mailloux officially started his tenure as superintendent in 2007, leading the former SAD 34. At that time the Belfast-based district was facing a looming deficit of more than $800,000, and despite Mailloux's initial estimation that it might take up to three years for the district to recover, it took about a year to pay it off.
The former SAD 34 school board chose Mailloux for the superintendent's position after he served in several other capacities in the Belfast-area school district. Mailloux taught at Troy Howard Middle School (where he also served as assistant principal), and for five years he was assistant principal at Belfast Area High School. Just prior to taking on the superintendent's role, Mailloux had also worked as the assistant superintendent, business manager and acting superintendent.
In the spring of 2009, just prior to the official merger of the former SADs 34 and 56, the then-fledgling RSU 20 board of directors chose Mailloux to serve as the first superintendent of the consolidated district.
As of July 1, the district will have a new lead administrator, Brian Carpenter, a former assistant principal at Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan. His tenure in RSU 20 will be Carpenter's first time serving as a superintendent, but according to previously published reports, Carpenter has an extensive background in education and in the military.
During his final superintendent's report Tuesday night, Mailloux recalled some of the highs and lows of his time as the head of the district, including the deficit and the statewide consolidation mandate.
"That adventure continues," said Mailloux, adding that it will be interesting to see what comes of the withdrawal efforts that six of the nine district towns are currently considering.
During the June elections, residents in Belfast, Morrill, Swanville and Northport voted in favor of forming withdrawal exploration committees, while Searsmont and Belmont voters will decide whether to take that step in special elections this summer. Searsmont voters will head to the polls Tuesday, July 10.
"Then we had to deal with that nasty superintendent who put out that school consolidation plan; that was about as popular as a skunk in an elevator," said Mailloux, referring to the series of public meetings held in regard to a proposal to close some outlying elementary schools and make Belfast Area High School the sole high school for the RSU.
Mailloux talked about the success the district has seen in recent years, too, touting everything from the use of a standards-based curriculum at Searsport District High School to the recent success of the Science Olympiad team at the national competition in Florida.
There are challenges ahead, said Mailloux, but he expressed gratitude to the district staff, as well as to the directors themselves, for their dedication to the children of the district.
"It doesn't work unless we have people like you, who are willing to step up and serve on the school board," he said.
Mailloux also took the opportunity to welcome incoming directors Sharon Catus of Stockton Springs, Eric Carter of Frankfort and Tony Swebilius of Morrill, as well as Carpenter, all of whom were in attendance Tuesday night.
Dube, who always began each meeting with a famous quote, offered collections of inspirational phrases to each of her fellow directors, and encouraged them to read those quotes whenever they get "down in the dumps."
As Dube kicked off the business portion of Tuesday's meeting, she opened with the following observation from Marilyn Monroe:
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
This story has been corrected from a previous version to correct a name spelling.