After a fairly lengthy discussion and a five-minute break to determine the outcome of the vote, the RSU 20 Board of Directors chose Brian Carpenter to serve as the district’s next superintendent Tuesday night.

The board voted 11-4-2 (with Directors Alan Wood, Orya Shomron, Dorothy Odell and Darren Philbrick opposed and Directors Gerry Reid and incoming Director Charles Poirier abstaining) in favor of hiring Carpenter with an initial two-year contract and a salary of $105,000. Carpenter is expected to join RSU 20 July 1.

Directors made the decision at their regular meeting Tuesday night, April 24, at Searsport District High School.

Board chairman Jean Dube said Carpenter will have the option of negotiating his salary after his first year of service to the nine-town district and could also seek an extension of his contract at that time, an arrangement current Superintendent Bruce Mailloux described as standard.

Director Chris Krause, one director present for Carpenter’s interview, said Carpenter is currently working as an 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 Krause said the Bangor resident has an extensive background in education as well as in the military.

“He’s been in the military and he was an officer,” said Krause. “He’s worked at the Pentagon, and in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

When asked what his initial impression of Carpenter was when he first met him, Krause said, “This guy wants to get down to business.”

When Carpenter was told of the ongoing teacher contract dispute and the existing divide between communities of the former SADs 34 and 56, Krause said Carpenter’s reaction was that of someone who looks forward to meeting a challenge.

“That’s what he likes to do,” said Krause. “We need some hard decisions made in this district… I think [Carpenter] sees this as something that’ll keep him busy.”

But the decision to bring Carpenter on board did not come easy.

When the original motion was made to hire Carpenter, there were a handful of directors who advocated for more discussion before voting on the matter.

Shomron told directors he felt since the agenda item indicated there would be discussion and possible action, he expected a motion would be made to go into executive session to talk over the personnel matter.

Director Alan Wood, who later seconded Shomoron’s motion to enter executive session, said he disagreed with allowing a two-year contract for the incoming superintendent.

Director Tony Bagley, however, took exception to discussing the matter any further.

“We as a board, or those of us who attended, sat for over two hours and discussed that,” he said. “For those who are there, what is there to discuss?”

Shomron disagreed, saying there should be additional discussion for the benefit of those who were unable to attend out of “respect for the fullness of the board.”

Shomron followed his comments up with a motion to enter executive session (seconded by Wood), but that motion failed.

When it came time to vote on the original motion to hire Carpenter, the number of votes in favor and against it created another set of issues to work out before any decision was announced.

The divide among the directors prompted Assistant Superintendent John McDonald to tally up the votes under the district’s weighted voting system to determine the outcome, which he eventually calculated to reflect 11,016 votes in favor of the new hire and 4,291 opposed. But that process became slightly more complicated when Mailloux suggested the board take a five-minute break to check state statutes and see if that particular decision required a two-thirds majority vote.

When the board returned to regular session a few minutes later, McDonald explained the outcome.

“A superintendent is elected by a majority vote, not a two-thirds majority, and this is clearly a majority vote,” he said. “The motion carries.”

Following the vote determination, Director Denise Dakin requested the board enter executive session at the conclusion of the meeting for the purpose of discussing public officials and/or employees, a motion that directors agreed to unanimously.

Dube announced prior to the start of the closed-door session that the board would take no action as a result of the discussions that were to be held there.