ELLSWORTH, Maine — The superintendent of Mount Desert Island schools, Rob Liebow, has accepted an offer with a Massachusetts school system.
Liebow, who has headed MDI’s public schools since 2004, said Thursday that members of the Rockport, Mass., school committee notified him Wednesday night that they had voted unanimously to offer him the superintendent position. He immediately accepted the offer, pending final negotiations.
Liebow has worked in the MDI school system since 1991, holding the positions of assistant principal, athletic director and principal at the high school before becoming superintendent eight years ago.
But Liebow said he often stresses to young students the importance of family and of embracing change. So Liebow said he was looking forward to new challenges and living a short distance from his son and grandchild after he relocates to Rockport, a coastal town east of Gloucester.
“The job of superintendent here is great and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” he said in an interview. “But change is healthy.”
Liebow is contractually obligated to remain with Mount Desert Island Regional School System until June 30 and he said that numerous issues remain unfinished. For instance, negotiations are continuing on a “common contract” for teachers and roughly half of the school budgets have yet to go before local voters during town meetings.
“There are still things left to be done here by the end of June and I plan to do them,” he said.
Liebow’s likely departure at the end of June does not leave much time for the school board of MDI Regional School System AOS 91 to find a permanent replacement before the start of school next fall.
Judy Sproule, chairwoman of the school board, said members likely will meet next week to begin discussing the search process. But Sproule said the board may opt for an interim superintendent to allow the search to take place over the school year.
Sproule said news of Liebow’s anticipated departure is bittersweet because he is well regarded by board members, teachers, students and parents.
“It’s a terrific move for him and sad for us because we really love and respect him,” Sproule said. “He has done great things for our schools.”
MDI won’t be the only Hancock County school system looking for a new superintendent in the coming months. School Union 76 also has bumped up its search process after longtime superintendent Robert Webster said he hoped to retire on Aug. 1 rather than next February as originally planned.
Liebow was one of two finalists for the superintendent position in Rockport, Mass. The Gloucester Times reported that Liebow won unanimous support from the Rockport School Committee after a visit to MDI and his public interview in Rockport.
“Rob was clearly the crowd favorite,” said school committee Chairman Michael Kelley, according to the Gloucester paper.
Although not originally from Maine, Liebow spent summers on the Cranberry Isles with his family when he was growing up. He taught and coached at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor for three years before working in schools in Bucksport and Dexter.