LUBEC, Maine — The superintendent has resigned, and except for the school board no one in town knows why. Not even the town’s top administrator.
Town Administrator Maureen Glidden said Monday she had heard a rumor that Michael Buckley had resigned last week and called one of the school board members to confirm it. The school board member said Buckley had resigned but did not elaborate, Glidden said.
Reached Monday night, school board Chairman Russell Wright said that Buckley had resigned for personal reasons. He handed in his resignation, effective immediately, on Thursday, Oct. 30, at a regular meeting of the board. The next day Buckley was gone. The former part-time superintendent worked three days a week.
Right now the school board has advertised for a superintendent to work one day a week, Wright said.
“Until we find out what this RSU is going to do,” he said of the state-mandated plan to combine smaller school systems into larger regional school units in an effort to save money. Lubec voters will be asked to vote on the local RSU plan in December.
Asked if state law allowed for the school board to hold a legal meeting without a superintendent, Wright said one consideration was for the board to seek a waiver from the commissioner of the Department of Education.
In the meantime, Wright said, high school Principal Peter Doak has his superintendent certification. Wright said he was not sure whether the board would appoint Doak as interim superintendent. “I know he doesn’t want to really take on that load; it is quite a load as it is,” he said of the principal’s job.
The chairman said Buckley’s resignation had nothing to do with an exit poll being taken today asking local voters whether or not they want to close the high school, where student population has fallen to 42.
“It was time for [Buckley] to move on. It just happens that everything happened at once,” Wright said. “[The resignation] is kind of a bombshell, but we will probably get through it.”
Former school board member Diana Wilson, who was a member of the school study committee appointed last year by the board to consider the future of the high school, initiated the nonbinding poll on the high school. She said last week that she pushed for the vote on Election Day because of the expected high voter turnout. She said she believed it was a good time to poll the community on whether the high school should be closed.
But board member Eleody Libby told the Bangor Daily News last week that the town has not had time to review information recently collected by the school study committee. Libby was co-chairwoman of the study committee, along with Wilson.
Lubec’s high school has 42 students, four classroom teachers, and one instructor each for art and physical education. The school also has a principal and special education coordinator.
Among the issues examined by the school study panel over the past few months were the costs of continuing to operate the high school vs. sending the students to another school and the classroom offerings available under each scenario.
The committee planned to report its findings to the school board Thursday, then hold a public meeting so people could review the report. The school board then was expected to schedule a nonbinding vote on the future of the high school at the same time in December that residents are to vote on the proposed RSU, according to Libby.
But with the study committee’s findings complete, Wilson suggested putting the question before voters today because it would coincide with the presidential election. Town officials went along and said Friday that they were considering the advisory question being presented to voters as an “exit poll.”