RSU 24 hires new Sumner High principal

Posted May 26, 2010, at 10:06 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

SULLIVAN, Maine — In a split vote, members of the Regional School Unit 24 board selected a Wisconsin man Tuesday night to become the new principal of Sumner Memorial High School.

Tom Wissink, the assistant principal of Osh Kosh North High School in Osh Kosh, Wis., was hired to replace Michael Eastman as Sumner’s principal. Wissink, who will receive an annual salary of $82,500, is expected to begin his new duties at the end of June, according to RSU 24 Superintendent William Webster.

Eight members of the board voted in favor of hiring Wissink and two voted against it. Four members of the 14-seat board, which uses weighted voting to represent the estimated populations of each of the RSU’s 12 member municipalities, were not at the specially scheduled meeting.

Wissink was hired because the board, in a controversial move, decided in late March to remove Eastman as principal. The board wanted to replace Eastman so the school, named by the Maine Department of Education as one of the 10 “persistently low-achieving” in the state, could qualify for federal funding of up to $2 million a year for three years. Finding a new principal was a requirement for applying for the federal funding.

RSU 24 officials have said the vote was not about Eastman’s performance so much as it reflected a desire to qualify for the funding, which could be used to help boost academic performance at the high school.

Since the board voted to find a new Sumner principal, Eastman has been hired as the new principal of Peninsula School in Gouldsboro, which is part of RSU 24. Peninsula School serves Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor pupils from kindergarten through eighth grade.

In a prepared statement, Webster said Wissink impressed the school’s principal search committee with his experience. Wissink has helped establish standards-based education and improve student attendance at his high school, which has 1,400 students. Sumner has approximately 270 students, Webster said.

“[Wissink] has the personality to be successful as principal at Sumner Memorial High School,” Webster said in the statement. “He is open to input and values teamwork while being unyielding in his commitment to the implementation of needed improvements and change.”

Webster has said that RSU 24 received 17 applications for the Sumner principal job.

After the board met in executive session for nearly an hour to consider the candidates to replace Eastman, board members Julie Curtis of Eastbrook and Richard Gray of Ellsworth voted against hiring Wissink.

Board members who voted in favor of hiring Wissink include Jennifer Shorey of Franklin, Annie Perry of Gouldsboro, Jonathan Morren of Lamoine, Janet Wilpan of Sorrento, Geoff Zentz of Steuben, Michael Pinkham of Sullivan, James Buteau of Waltham and Jeff Alley of Winter Harbor. Absent were Alice Dow of Ellsworth, Leigh Guildford of Ellsworth, Richard Malaby of Hancock and Randy Bragg of Mariaville.

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