The AOS 93 School Board voted unanimously Jan. 11 to create an eight-member internal search committee to interview superintendent candidates and make a recommendation to the board.
Following a public vote on the 2022-2023 district office budget on Dec. 22, AOS 93 Board Chair Matthew Hanly announced Superintendent Craig Jurgensen’s intention to retire and that the board would begin the search for a new superintendent within the district.
AOS 93 includes seven towns – Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Newcastle, Nobleboro, and South Bristol. Among the seven towns are five elementary schools – Bristol Consolidated School, Great Salt Bay Community School, Jefferson Village School, Nobleboro Central School, and South Bristol School.
At its monthly meeting on Jan. 11, the AOS 93 Board met to discuss the potential composition of an internal search committee. The goal was to form a committee that would represent the seven communities, five schools and various community members – teachers, staff, parents, administrators – served by the district.
The board selected three AOS 93 board members: Hanly, vice chair J.W. Oliver, and treasurer Stephanie Nelson. Additionally, the board appointed JVS Principal Jason Adickes, NCS head of maintenance Shep Brown, community leader and GSB parent Steven Hufnagel, SBS lead teacher and special education head Amanda Sykes, and Central Office Special Services Director Kelly Stokes.
The committee will first meet on Jan. 18 and interview candidates and make a recommendation to the AOS 93 board on Jan. 25. The board will meet on Jan. 27 to review the recommendation and establish next steps.
The board’s goal is to appoint the next superintendent or begin a wider-ranging search by Jan. 31.
During the meeting on Jan. 11, Walter Morse, the Jefferson representative to the AOS 93 Board, motioned for a vote of no-confidence to unseat Hanly as chair. Morse expressed his opposition to the board’s proposed interview and hiring process and accused Hanly of undermining the voices of local school committees.
Morse took exception to Hanly announcing that the AOS 93 Board would embark on an internal search on Dec. 22 without a board vote on the scope of the selection process. He also objected to the chair reaching out to the AOS 93 principals to ask for appointment recommendations for the internal search committee.
“I cannot tell you how mad and upset I was with the stunt that you just pulled when you contacted the principals directly and asked them to contact you with potential search committee applicants. That was way across the line. You didn’t even have the courtesy to include us or the local boards in an email,” Morse said.
Morse said he would provide the board with the list of representatives from Jefferson to be included on the search committee, rather than the AOS 93 board selecting the candidates.
“You continue to overstep your authority as the board chair and as the self-appointed chair of the search committee, and for that reason I’ll ask for a vote of no confidence,” Morse said.
Oliver, Bristol’s representative to the board, argued that it is not the responsibility of local school committees to appoint the interview committee, as Morse suggested, but of the AOS 93 board.
“Any committee of this board should be appointed by this board, not by individual members,” he said.
Oliver added that Hanly went to the district’s principals for suggestions to better ensure that the committee would be composed of members who effectively represent each school’s community.
He added that Hanly already reached out to each member of the board, including Morse, and asked them to recommend potential candidates from their communities.
“Walter, you’re entitled to your opinion, but there’s only one person on this board who regularly shows a lack of courtesy, and that’s the Jefferson representative,” Oliver said.
Stephanie Nelson, GSB’s representative, added that she did not believe that Hanly had overstepped, and that he was performing his duty as the chair and expediting what could otherwise be a tedious process for selecting interview committee members.
“I think Matthew’s done a great job,” Nelson said, “He’s presenting options to the board… I thought it was a great idea to reach out to the principals because they feel included now, and he’s just asking for suggestions.”
Ultimately, Morse’s motion for a vote of no confidence did not receive a second and failed, and the board unanimously approved the creation of the internal search committee following an executive session.
The AOS 93 Board will next meet at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8 via Zoom, with an in-person meeting option to be determined. The meeting will be livestreamed and posted on the AOS 93 YouTube page.