BELFAST, Maine — After five years at the helm of the regional school district, RSU 20 Superintendent Bruce Mailloux has decided to call it a day.
He will retire from his post on June 30, 2012, Mailloux told school board members this week.
“That’s probably long enough,” he said Friday. “Every time you make a decision you irritate somebody. Sooner or later, that number of folks tends to increase, naturally, and you get to a point where it’s harder and harder to do things. When it gets to that point of critical mass, it’s time for a change.”
Mailloux was hired as the permanent superintendent of the former SAD 34 at a time when the district was trying to recover from a leadership and financial crisis. A 2005 shortfall of $750,000 eventually grew to nearly $1 million, while then-Superintendent Bob Young was out on extended medical leave.
Mailloux began working as a math teacher for the district in 1996 before becoming an administrator at Troy Howard Middle School and then at Belfast Area High School. He became an acting superintendent when the district began to deal with the crisis, eventually becoming superintendent in 2007.
He said that he is still proud of helping the district weather that storm, although he said he shares the credit with other administrators, teachers and board members.
“Obviously, pulling us out of the deficit situation really quicker than expected was a huge accomplishment,” Mailloux said. “We basically stopped spending money. We literally tightened the belt as far as it could go. It was an interesting year.”
As soon as the district was on a steadier financial footing, it then had to go through the storm of Maine’s 2008 school consolidation law. Two very different school districts, the former SAD 34 and the former SAD 56, combined to form the current configuration. Now, RSU 20 educates the students of Belfast, Belmont, Frankfort, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont, Searsport, Stockton Springs and Swanville.
Mailloux said that consolidation has been an ongoing challenge.
“Even just getting districts to talk and put together a plan was a lot of work,” he said. “I really feel that the consolidated school district is going to be in the best interest of the majority of students in this area. We’ve got to get through a lot of growing pains to get there.”
The superintendent sees that an upcoming challenge for the school district will be the continued problem of declining state and federal funds and decreasing student enrollment.
“That formula, I think, means we cannot continue with the status quo,” he said. “There’s going to have to be some major changes, unless people are willing to put up with hefty, hefty tax increases, and I don’t think that they are.”
On the plus side, he said that he’s proud of the district’s expanded pre-kindergarten program, its upgraded transportation fleet and improvements to its facilities, all done while keeping the expenditure budget “fairly steady.”
“Some people feel that if you don’t increase, you go behind. I think we’ve trimmed excess and done a good job evaluating services. If we don’t need them, we get rid of them,” he said. “We’re getting as lean and mean as we can in terms of operation, but I will add that we’re about as lean and mean as we can get.”