Regional School Unit 71 Superintendent Paul Knowles will be leaving the district at the end of the school year.

Knowles submitted his letter of resignation on April 2 during an executive session at a regular meeting of the district's Board of Directors.

Reached by phone Friday, Knowles said he had "no comment" on his decision to leave or plans for the future, noting that these were his "personal business."

Asked about his time with the district, Knowles was upbeat.

"I feel good about the things I've helped lead, and I feel good about the relationships I've helped build with people," he said.

Prior to serving in RSU 71, Knowles trained superintendents as a lecturer of educational leadership at the University of Maine at Orono. He was superintendent of RSU 11 — Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner — for seven years and previously served as an assistant superintendent, middle and high school principal, high school assistant principal, and middle and high school teacher.

Knowles was hired in May 2015 as the first permanent superintendent of RSU 71, which includes Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Searsmont and Swanville.. The district was created in 2015 in the wake of a mass withdrawal from RSU 20 by six of the district's eight towns.

After the withdrawal, Belfast and four surrounding towns reformed under the banner of RSU 71. The new district was an attempt to recreate the pre-consolidation School Administrative District 34.

Longtime Belfast-area superintendent Bruce Mailloux led the fledgling district through a transitional period in early 2015. Knowles was hired during that time and started when the district officially launched in July. By then, the major pieces were in place, but Knowles said there were still many things to be done.

"A lot of work," he said. "And I think we've come a great way toward putting the district on solid footing. I think there's a good pathway forward. It's been a privilege to lead the district."

Caitlin Hills, chairman of the RSU 71 Board of Directors, said she did not anticipate receiving Knowles' resignation. The board renewed his contract two months prior, she said.

"We weren't in any sort of negotiation with him," she said. "I was very surprised. I'm grateful for what he's done for the district. There was nothing I know that occurred. There was no ill will."

Hills said the board is seeking a mix of community members and RSU 71 employees for a search committee to find a new superintendent.

Those interested in serving on the committee should email a letter of interest by April 12 to Hills and Vice Chairman Allison Goscinski at and The letter should address why you are interested in serving, what you feel you can bring to the search committee, and any other information you feel is pertinent to the board's consideration.